The Senate on Friday approved the rehabilitation of eight airstrips across the country in the 2022 national budget.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, stated this in an interview with journalists on Friday.
Adeyemi said the Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved the proposal when he defended his panel’s budget report before it.
He said aspiring to build multi-billion dollar airports was no longer fashionable because many of the existing one could not boast of 100, 000 passengers annually.
He said the nation requires just about N1bn or N2bn to construct an airstrip.
He said, “The Covid-19 has made it imperative to start thinking of accelerating the economic development of the country.
“That is why the airstrips must be rehabilitated. We only need N1bn or N2bn to construct an airstrip.
“In many nations of the world that I’ve visited, airstrip are a landing facility. Whether an airport is having a terminal of N10bn or N20bn does not matter.
“What matters is that it must have a good landing facility. If we have a good runway for an airstrip, it may not be able to accommodate a Boeing series but it could accommodate a shuttle flight of 50 passengers it is okay.
“We need to open up the country by opening up airstrips. Some of them were constructed some 50 years ago.
“We have therefore proposed Uli-Okija (Anambra) Bida (Niger), Zuru (Kebbi), Zaria (Kaduna), Kotangora (Niger), Ajaokuta, (Kogi) Irrhua (Edo) and Mubi (Adamawa) airstrips.
“The Uli-Okija airstrip is good because it will open up the Nnewi Anambra axis and the entire South-East more when we have an aircraft that could take about 50 passengers to take off and land, to the hinterland.
“We don’t need a Boeing series that would be looking for 100 passengers to take off before it move.
“If we have a 50-seater aircraft, it could land and pick 30 passengers at no loss, but if you are waiting for a Boeing series before you construct airport, you are not helping the Nigerian nation.
“We should not be looking at aviation from the level of America. We have to graduate and the way to do it is to have airstrip in place.
“They are needed because they service the hinterland. It would enable them to move goods and passengers around the country easily
“That is the basic thing to help guarantee the social and economic development of our nation.
“We don’t need N10bn to construct airport. We only need standard runway to service a 50-seater to land. They don’t need terminal, they only needed to be rehabilitated.
“The time for excessive spending is over. We only need functional facilities which an airstrip would provide.”
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