Six years after N5.8bn reconstruction, cracks rock Abuja Airport taxiway

Six years after the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation reconstructed the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja, Nairametrics can confirm that its taxiway is riddled with cracks, thereby endangering the users.

The then Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika had shut down the airport for six weeks for the total reconstruction of the only runway at the airport.

Sirika had claimed that it cost the government about N5.8 billion to carry out the massive repairs.

But, Nairametrics learnt that the taxiway had almost collapsed six years later.

Runway lifespan

The standard lifespan of a runway and taxiway is between 30 to 40 years, especially for busy airports.

The poor situation of the taxiway led to a serious incident with the Aero Contractors Boeing 737 aircraft on Sunday while the aircraft was taxiing out of the runway.

Commenting on the issue, the Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Securities Limited, Grp. John Ojikutu (retd), said that the taxiway like the runway lacked period maintenance as required.

Lack of maintenance

According to him, maintenance on the runways and taxiways is expected to be carried out at least yearly, wondering if this had been done since the runway was reconstructed in the first quarter of 2017.

He explained that the repairs, which were carried out by Julius Berger in 2017 were the first of its kind since the runway was built over 30 years ago and queried the quality of the repair done in less than two months.

  • He said: “There are expected to be periodic maintenance on the runways after a certain number of landings yearly. How many times have these been done? Secondly, the repairs done in 2017 by Julius Berge were the first of its kind since the runway was built over 30 thirty years ago before then. What was the quality of the repair done in less than two months?
  • Julius Berge did the construction; it also did the repairs, we need to put the questions of the quality on the toes of the construction firm. Cracks would come based on the quality of construction, landings, repairs and the periodic maintenance done on the runways.”

Also, Mr. Cyril Obuah, an aviation analyst, said the current state of the taxiway was due to poor quality work executed by the Federal Government in 2017.

Taxiway not repaired

Also, a former pilot with the defunct Nigeria Airways, Capt. Mohammed Badamasi said that the runway and the taxiway are two different entities.

He expressed that while the government carried out a reconstruction of the runway with billions of naira, it failed to carry out repairs on the taxiway.

He regretted that since the official opening of the airport, the taxiway and apron, where the aircraft are parked, have never had a facelift.

He emphasised that Abuja airport, which is over 40 years old, its taxiway surfaces ought to have been rebuilt by the government.

  • “See what it looks like, as if it is not being managed by people trained to know what is required for the safety of aircraft movements. There are so many things wrong with the airport in Abuja.
  • “Remember that I mentioned the status of the taxiway. No taxi lights to help the pilots to navigate taxi routes. These are my observations on many occasions in my journey to Abuja, of which the recent one was in September this year,” he said.

Badamasi further observed that the tarmac fingers were not being used for domestic flights by airlines, maintaining that the exit used by passengers to the aircraft was not safe, pointing out that it was below the standard required for the safety of passengers.

He warned that in case of an emergency, many travellers and other users would be seriously injured, because of the metal stairway, made of solid metal.

He declared that the nation’s airports needed managers who understood safety in the system and doubted if there were competent personnel to effectively carry out this function.

Serious incident due to poor taxiway

An Aero Contractors aircraft, a B737 aircraft with the registration number: 5N-BYQ, had on Sunday morning been involved in a serious incident at the Abuja airport due to a nose wheel stuck in the grass verge of the taxiway with its fuselage on the runway.

The serious incident led to the closure of the runway before the aircraft was towed out of the runway.

N5.8bn repairs

Sirika had said in January 2017 that the proposed repair of the Abuja airport runway would cost N5.8 billion.

He said the runway had become necessary in view of the fact that it was as critical as the economy of the country, adding that the runway was constructed over 30 years ago with no major repairs.

The minister gave a guarantee of 10 years, saying that the runway would serve the country for a long time after the repair.

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