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FG budgets N21.5bn for Abuja 2nd runway, national carrier

The Federal Government is to spend N21.5 billion on the ongoing construction of second runway of Nnmadi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) in Abuja and for a national carrier, the 2019 budget estimate has shown.

While the runway will gulp N13bn, the suspended national carrier project will take N8.5bn. Spending for the national carrier comprise N8bn for working capital and N500 million for transaction advisers.

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Daily Trust analysis shows that the runway got N5bn more than the N8bn it had in the 2018 budget.

The runway construction and the national carrier projects are just two out of over 100 projects of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) contained in the appropriation bill. Most of the projects bother on upgrade of facilities at Nigeria’s airports.

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Following the closure of Abuja airport in 2017 to repair the dilapidated runway of the airport and diversion of flights to Kaduna, the Federal Government began move to construct a second runway.

This was kick-started with N10bn budget for the project in the 2017 appropriation Bill amidst opposition to the project by some aviation stakeholders.

Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika emphasizing the importance of a second runway said: “I saw the need and called for it but it fell on deaf ears. At the time of Yar’Adua, government saw the need but the project was condemned on the excuse that the money was too much.”

“There is second runway in Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt. I think the focus of the government within the limited resources is to do a second runway in Abuja and if we need additional runway, during the concessioning, the man, who would win it will do it.”

However, from all indications, the project is being threatened by paucity of funds as the N13bn budgeted for it in the 2019 appropriation estimate is not enough to take the project to completion.

From 2017 till date, the government has only made provision of N31bn for the project which is less than half of the total project cost of N67bn.

On the national carrier project, the Minister had announced last year after the abrupt suspension of the project that it is still on course and denied spending any money on the unveiling of name, logo, among others.

The N8.5bn, it was gathered, would be deployed in the various activities that would culminate in the establishment of the carrier this year.

Elsewhere under the 2019 appropriation for the aviation industry, the government budgets N1.008bn for the ongoing Enugu terminal building; remodeling and upgrade of Terminal Wing D at Abuja airport would gulp 603.4m; Upgrade and Remodelling of Terminal Building at Port Harcourt (Phase 1) Airport will gulp N807m.

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