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Following reported plans by the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu over safety breaches by various stakeholders, players in the Enugu Free Trade Zone (EFTZ) at the weekend said they have met all certification requirements to attain safety compliant status.

They also expressed willingness to work with the Ministry of Aviation in addressing all concerns over the proximity of one of the units of the free zone to the airport.

In a statement to the media, the Enugu Power Free Zone Company (Enpower FZC) which manages the free trade zone called for cohesion among stakeholders not only to address fresh safety concerns at the airport, but to clear misconceptions over the well-conceived aviation facility development and growth plans that informed location of the free trade zone close to the airport.

The statement came in reaction to media reports crediting the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, with statements that federal government was considering downgrading the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, to local status and subsequently shut it down on safety concerns.

Mr. Sirika is reported to have listed major safety concerns at the airport to include bad runway, state radio mast on landing approach to the runway, location of EFTZ at the end of the runway, and threats of bird strikes from an abattoir at a nearby market.

Chairman of Enpower FZC, Mr. Emeka Ene, who stated that the reports of the minister’s comments have already triggered panic among international investors that have already staked interests in the free trade zone, said the company and Enugu State government are already working to address all concerns raised by the minister, including mast removal and market relocation.

He however clarified that the EFTZ which is the only such facility in the South East zone of the country is eminently certified compliant to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 14 regulations for Aerodrome Safety and Height restrictions.

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