Repair work started yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
A Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) official confirmed to NE that markings had been done on the runway to indicate that “it was closed”.
“They are also doing a survey of the runway.The makings will indicate to air flyers that the runway is closed and they cannot land here.So, that is the beginning of the work,” the official added.
Another official and FAAN’s International Terminal Manager Mrs. Hajara Musa said work started on Wednesday after the management handed over the runway to the contractors.
However, passengers heading to Benin, Ibadan and other destination on various flights were screened at the Abuja airport before they were conveyed to Kaduna.
As at the time journalists visited the airport, FAAN officials were directing passengers to their buses.
Before passengers gained access to the buses, they were made to fill their names, signature and the airline they were following in a register book, which was placed at the entry point of the airport.
But the Kaduna International Airport was agog yesterday with activities.
Five domestic carriers – Air Peace, DANA Air, Aero, Arik Air and Medview Airlines – operated flights from Lagos.
The carriers operated their scheduled flights on the route following the closure of the Abuja Airport.
Amid tight security, scores of passengers expressed excitement over the use of Kaduna Airport for the flights.
As early as 8.00 am, flights from Lagos started landing at the Kaduna Airport.
Apart from the ground handling firm Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), aviation fuel suppliers – Conoil, So Aviation – and other ancillary services providers were on ground to facilitate smooth flight operations.
Besides scheduled carriers, charter operators were also at Kaduna Airport to facilitate smooth operations.
Airport security, aerodrome safety and fire-fighters were also at work to ensure smooth operations.
The government secured an agreement with a private transport firm -Chisco Limited – with security escort patrol vehicles to convey passengers between Kaduna and Abuja as well as between Abuja and Kaduna.
A source said most of the airlines recorded low passenger traffic out of Kaduna Airport into Lagos.
While some passengers plied the buses provided by the government from Kaduna to Abuja, others were transported by bus provided by government from Kaduna Airport to the train station in Rigasa, a suburb along the Kaduna / Abuja Expressway, where the train terminal is located.
Minister of State, Aviation Hadi Sirika was on hand in Kaduna to witness flight operations.
But work is yet to be completed at the Kaduna Airport as workers of the construction firm were making last minute efforts to see the project to fruition.
Investigations revealed that passenger profiling for international passengers were handled manually.
Personnel of aviation agencies were sufficiently mobilised to ensure safety and security at the airport.
Apart from a new toll gate plaza being completed at the entrance into the airport, the staff quarters for workers of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) were being renovated.
From the Airport Road Junction on the expressway into the terminal, there was heavy security presence with members of the Nigerian Police Anti – Bomb Squad, Special Anti – Robbery Squad (SARS) mobilised at strategic locations.
The Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (rtd), has given assurance of strict narcotic screening at the Kaduna Airport.
This, according to him, will help in preventing illicit movement of narcotic drugs by drug cartels.
Abdallah made the pledge following the interception of two suspected drug traffickers at Abuja Airport few hours to its closure on Wednesday.
They were caught with 2.150-kilogramme of heroin from Tanzania and 386 grammes of cocaine en-route Cambodia.
Preliminary investigation revealed that both suspects wanted to capitalise on the temporary relocation to Kaduna Airport in moving narcotics at the Abuja Airport, but the NDLEA promptly arrested them.
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