The contractor rehabilitating the Akanu Ibiam International airport has closed work following developments that have trailed the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who visited the deserted runway site, on Tuesday, disclosed that the contractor had to collapse job after the workers insisted that they will vacate site to attend to their families in view of the pandemic.
Addressing newsmen at the airport, Sirika who wore a face mask and maintained social distancing among staff and other government officials at the airport, said that other jobs such as drainage construction and terminal building renovation were ongoing except for the runway rehabilitation that is now put on hold.
Sirika said: “The job is 93 percent completed, unfortunately, however, we are more than sad to announce today that because the workers who ought to be on-site had to close down to go back to their families in view of this COVID-19.
“We had planned to surmount this problem, we pushed as far as we could to defeat this monster, COVID-19, to deliver this project before Easter and we are on our way to achieving that, we needed only seven days to deliver this project, unfortunately, the workers based the advice of their families who called them back to join them at this trying moment.
“As much as we would have loved to continue and finish it with a maximum of seven days and deliver before Easter, we think that life is much more important. What we are trying to do here is to save lives, to create a new environment for safe operations and we would not in the process loose other lives. So the workers have taken decisions by themselves.”
The minister stated that the Governors in South East tried to dialogue with the contractor, PW, which was ready to continue with the job despite the fact that it has collapsed operation worldwide because of the pandemic.
He also noted that the Federal Airports Authority, FAAN, and the ministry of Aviation were ready to continue with the work, but for the workers who insisted on terminating work till the pandemic is contained.
“The workers said it was extremely difficult for them to continue the social distancing in this circumstance and also that they were worried that everybody were with their families except them. So collectively they decided they will go back home to their families until this monster will be conquered.
We support them and wish them well with their families and we wish that this monster will soon be killed; this monster that human beings will overcome it through the special intervention of God and through our own acts that include social distancing, improved hygiene, washing our hands, use of masks and avoiding social gatherings, including churches and mosques and any other concentration center where people will come to cluster,” Sirika advised.