Nigeria second busiest airport serving Abuja will be shut down for six weeks starting from March 8 2017 so that its dilapidated single runway can be repaired.
The Abuja airport is the second busiest airport in Nigeria, handling more than 5 million passengers a year. Hadi Sirika, the minister of state for aviation, said the government had no choice but to divert traffic.
“Whether we shut this runway down or we don’t, the runway is on its way to shutting itself,” he said. “The entire structure of the runway has failed.”
Sirika said the runway was only ever intended to be used for 20 years, a deadline that has long since passed.
Flights will be diverted to Kaduna during the closure of the second busiest airport. The much smaller airport is located roughly 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Abuja.
Passengers heading for Abuja will be transported by road, local media reported Sirika as saying. But this has raised safety concerns because of an escalating conflict between herdsmen and farmers in Kaduna state.
Nigeria’s government is based in Abuja, but the country’s commercial capital is Lagos. The airport’s closure is likely to make travel much more difficult for businesspeople.
“We need this just as much as a bullet in the head,” economist and businessman Bismarck Rewane told news men. “Abuja is so important … this could disrupt as much as 20% to 25% of business activity.”