As test flights are scheduled to take off at Bayelsa’s N90 billion cargo airport, the State Government, on Wednesday, announced that the state-owned television station, the Niger Delta Television (NDTV), would be shut down.
Hundreds of staffers of the station are currently off-duty, which the Government says is for their safety, as work is ongoing on the broadcast mast.
The airport, which, according Bayelsa government officials, has passed 95 per cent completion, is slated for inauguration on August 27 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the indefinite closure of the station is to reduce the communication mast of the broadcast house located near the airport’s 3.5kilometre runway to comply with aviation standards.
Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner for Information, who confirmed the development on Wednesday, said he personally visited NDTV on Tuesday to inspect the work on the station's mast.
The staggering cost of the project conceived in 2012 has raised concerns, following the frequent upward review of the contract figures from about N25 billion to the current N90 billion.
The Commissioner explained that the mast is being reduced to 300 feet to pave way for the commencement of test flight operations and the commissioning of the Bayelsa International Airport.
Iworiso-Markson said without the reduction of the mast, flights cannot operate as the NDTV is located at the corridor of the airport.
He explained that, due to its importance, the government decided to suspend the operations of NDTV and apologised to the station's viewers.
The Commissioner, who described the ongoing work as highly technical, encouraged the team to ensure that they meet the deadline for completion.
"The mast, from the report I’m getting from the team of engineers, who are working on it, at the end of this month, will come down to 300 feet.
"Hopefully there will be test flight at the airport, so airplane can land at the airport.
“The mast at that time will not constitute any kind of obstruction, as we are hoping and believing that the engineers will not fail us as they have promised not to.