Jan 11, 2017: The Senate of Nigeria has summoned the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi within two days to discuss the planned shutdown of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja for six weeks.

The motion was mooted by Hope Uzodinma, chairman, senate committee on customs, excise and tariff, and was co-sponsored by five other senators.

The Senate has also summoned the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, and Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on the issue.

Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) have also been asked to participate.

Presenting the motion, Uzodinma expressed concern over FAAN's decision to close the airport for six weeks, beginning from March 8, to carry out repairs on the runway.

He said while the effort to carry out repairs on the runway was a welcome development, the closure of the only runway was unacceptable.

According to him, the closure of the only airport in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) can trigger untold hardship on international and local travelers as well as dent the image of the country.

"A complete shutdown of the airport will impact negatively on international trade and related activities with multiplier effect that can exact further pressure on an already recessed economy. Plans to divert Abuja bound flights to Kaduna will throw up logistics and security challenges, including endangering lives and property of travelers," he said.

"All options have not been exhausted to avoid the shutdown of the only airport at our national capital for six weeks.This is including the option of a technical package to allow skeletal air operations at the airport while most repair work is executed at night," he added.

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