Enugu Governors in the South East have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to postpone the scheduled renovation of tarmac for Akanu Ibiam International airport Enugu to October.
The Governors also demanded that the contract for the renovation should be given to a more competent contractor, particularly, Julius Berger Construction Company.
One of the reasons, the governors gave for deferring the commencement of work at the airport to October, was for the rains to stop and also to enable the federal government make palliatives on the roads that would become alternatives to Owerri and Asaba airports.
Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief David Umahi who signed the letter to President Buhari said that the extension of time would also give them opportunity to clear bushes along the roads and make adequate arrangement with security operatives on patrol of the roads that would be used during the renovation.
In the letter dated August 19 and made available to newsmen, the Governors of South East appreciated President Buhari for granting their request for the immediate resurfacing of the tarmac and extension of the runway of the Enugu Airport, for public safety.
They also appreciated the President for the consistent progress of works at the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha and other federal government projects in the zone, especially the completion of the Zik’s Mausoleum in Onitsha and 2.8 mega watt solar power plant at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State.
They said they were however constrained to ask for the President’s kind intervention in the observations they made to the Federal Ministries of Transport (Aviation sector) and Works on the closure of the airport for the renovation works.
The Governors said: “We observed that the notification of the closure was prompt, giving us no time to make adequate arrangement for the security and convenience of our people and visitors to the South East who will be travelling long distances to alternative airports where flights will be diverted to.
“We therefore humbly request Your Excellency to kindly intervene and direct that the closure of the airport be deferred to the end of October, 2019 to enable adequate arrangements to be made for security of the airport users and for few remedial works within seven (7) days to be carried out at the tarmac to ensure safety.
“That Julius Berger be deployed to offer the one week remedial works on the tarmac within this period and also be given the contract to resurface the tarmac and extend the runway during dry season; That the Federal Ministry of Works in collaboration with the South East Governors’ Forum be directed to carry out palliative repairs on the major roads leading to the alternative airports as well clear all the bushes along the routes for better view of road users.
“That a 24-hour joint security patrol be provided for the safety of our people and visitors to the South East who will be using the roads day and night through the alternative airports; That Mr. President do kindly direct the Ministry of Transport.(Aviation sector) to provide some immediate palliatives in form of transportation with armed escorts and helicopter services to prospective passengers from the alternative airports.
“That Mr. President do approve the earlier resolution of the South East Governors banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming, raping of our women, kidnapping of our people and destruction of our farmlands mostly carried out by foreign herdsmen and in most cases with the backing of some compromised local herders”
The Governors also appealed with President Buhari to make their request from him public, to assuage their people’s feelings, whom they said, erroneously think that no efforts are being made by the leaders of the South East to tackle insecurity and economic challenges facing the zone and to let them know that their leaders before now have been working very hard without making noise as issues of security must not be discussed in the public.