Senate seeks restoration of Calabar Airport’s international status
Edwin Akwueh, Abuja
Nigerian Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation and all relevant agencies to restore the international flights status of the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar in Cross River State.
Senate advised them to fix and upgrade the existing facilities to meet up with the required international standards while also ensuring adequate security to protect equipment that are constantly vandalised by criminals.
It also called on them to install the Migration Information and Data System, MIDAS, saying; “This will aid in restarting the international route programme of the airport.”
The Senate’s resolutions were sequel to a motion on the “Urgent need to upgrade infrastructure and standardise travelling processes at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, Cross River State,“ by Senator Sandy Onor and co-sponsored by Senators Gershom Bassey and Agom Jarigbe.
Senator Onor, while leading debate on the motion, recalled that the airport was commissioned in July 1983 by former President Shehu Shagari and was equipped with modern facilities at the time and soon raised to the status of an international airport.
He also informed that in the 1980s and 1990s, the national carrier, Nigeria Airways used to fly regionally from Calabar to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, pointing out that “this impacted positively on the economy of Cross River State, Nigeria and the region at large.”
“Although the airport still has international status, the airport does not operate any international or regional flights anymore. In fact, until recently, only one commercial airline plied the Calabar route,” he stressed.
Senator Onor also expressed worry that; “If the status of the airport is not restored, most of these facilities will further deteriorate and waste”, adding that “lack of international or regional flights has greatly affected the economy and tourism drive of the state in particular and Nigeria at large.”
Senator Chukwuka Utazi also called on the federal government to upgrade the existing facilities in the airport to truly meet international status, saying; “As the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Security and National Intelligence, we visited Calabar and saw the damage done to the airport.”