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Senate approves construction of eight airstrips

The Senate Committee on Appropriation has approved the construction of eight airstrips as part of capital projects captured in the 2022 budget.

A member of the Committee and Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, disclosed this to newsmen after the Appropriation Committee ended its budget defence session for Standing Committees of the Senate.

According to Adeyemi, the airstrips are to be constructed in Ajaokuta, Okija, Bida, Kotangora, Zuru, Mubi, Irrua and Zaria.

Adeyemi 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. It takes about N1billion or N2billion to construct an airstrip.

“In many nations of the world that I’ve visited, airstrips are a landing facility. Whether an airport is having a terminal of N10billion or N20billion 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.

“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 moves.

“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 airports, 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.

“We have therefore proposed Okija airstrip, Zuru airstrip, Zaria airstrip, Ajaokuta airstrip, Mubi airstrip, Irrua airstrip, Bida airstrip and Kotangora airstrip.

“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 N10billion to construct airport. We only need standard runway to service a 50-seater to land. They don’t need terminal, they only need to be rehabilitated.

“The time for excessive spending is over. We only need functional facilities which an airstrip would provide.”

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