By Dipo Olowookere Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, has explained that work on the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja will take six months to complete, but stressed that the airport would only be closed for six weeks. Mr Sirika made this clarification while addressing the Senate on Thursday. The Minister explained that the Abuja runway was constructed in 1982 and has only a lifespan of 14 years, indicating that it has already exceeded its usage. He warned that to continue to operate the airport would be unsafe and unreasonable as there is a daily occurrence of incidents. According to him, the Port Harcourt Airport in Rivers State was shut down for over two years because the maintenance was not done on time. Mr Sirika noted that every flight plan has an alternate landing route and that Kaduna has always been an alternative for Abuja. He gave an instance when a plane landed on January 8, 2017 and ruined its tyre. He said at the moment, the plane can no longer fly. The Minister stressed that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is concerned about safety and will not take any chances to make thing work well. When asked by the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, on the status of preparation of the Kaduna Airport to serve as alternative, the Aviation Minister said government will provide military, police and helicopter patrols and upgrade clinics along the Abuja\/Kaduna airport route. He further said train services and executive bus services would be provided. According to him, few years ago, as a member of the National Assembly himself, he wrote a letter to all 469 members on the need for a second runway. The Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, asked if it was possible to extend the runway in Abuja to allow planes to continue to land and take off. He further asked if there were plans now to construct another runway at the Abuja Airport. In his submission, Senator Barnabas Gemade said, \u201cJulius Berger is not helping the nation at all, this has become a reoccurring problem in major areas they handle.\u201d He pointed out that if the airport must be closed, it should not exceed two weeks, insisting that the Kaduna Airport does not do international flight, saying the implication is that flight tickets would become more expensive. But the Aviation Minister assured that local engineers and indigenous companies would be engaged so as to put the money back into our economy.