There has been rift over the N64 billion contract for the proposed construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as the Senate on Tuesday kicked against the huge amount to be involved in executing the project.
At its plenary on Tuesday, the senate in a three-point motion by Senetor Dino Melaye, acknowledged the urgent need for a second runway at the airport, but frowned at the contract sum, noting that it was “just too exorbitant’’ .
Melaye stressed the need for the Federal Government to ensure that due process and diligence was followed in the design, award and procurement of the contract, while the cost should be “drastically reduced’’.
Describing the proposed cost of the project as ‘unrealistic’, Melaye insisted that the Federal Government should reduce the amount and duly monitor the award process.
He argued that the proposed cost of the runway far exceeded the cost of constructing some airports around the country and even abroad.
According to the senator, the terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport, with four lanes of 4km runway, cost less than N25 billion, while the entire Gombe Airport, with 3.66km runways, cost N8.2 billion.
Melaye, who expressed scepticism over the cost of constructing a mere runway at Abuja Airport at N64 billion, explained that construction of the Jigawa Airport cost N11 billion, Bauchi Airport, N12 billion, Enugu Airport, N13 billion, while the Akwa Ibom Airport cost about N18 billion.
While urging President Muhammudu Buhari to reject the proposed cost, the senator recalled that the contract had been cancelled earlier by the Jonathan’s administration over its high cost.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, acknowledged that the second runway was necessary, but added that it could only be executed “at a reasonable price’’.
Sarai said, “It is important, but we cannot continue with such reckless expenditure.
“We have to let all the MDAs know that those days of recklessness are over and these kinds of figures will not be accepted.
“In fact, it is not just in aviation, but in all other sectors of the economy.”
The Federal Government had, through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it had concluded plans to construct a multi billion naira second runway for the Abuja airport in few months.
Engr. Saleh Dunoma, Managing Director, FAAN, who announced the development, indicated that the intended project was key to FAAN’s operations.
Dunoma explained that due to increase in passenger and airline movement at the airport, the construction of a second runway would further prevent the deterioration of the existing runway.
He also noted that, given the present rate of growth in the industry, the existing runway may not effectively sustain the traffic.
He however noted that a survey has been carried out to determine the location of the second runway at the airport so that the new facilities to be provided would work smoothly with the existing facilities.