Yet for Nigerians living in the sleepy capital, Abuja, the airport with its more than 80 flights a day usually serves the purpose of getting them to their destinations, despite delays and cancellations that plague any busy airspace.
Sound familiar?And so the government’s announcement that it plans to close the airport for six weeks starting early Wednesday to repair a runway has prompted fears about a major disruption to Abuja’s lifeline to the rest of the country and the world.
At least Abuja has ground connections to the rest of the world:
The government’s Plan B for the airport isn’t soothing concerns. Planes are to be rerouted to a tiny airport in Kaduna, where on a typical day only a handful of flights go in and out. A new terminal being built in Kaduna to handle the influx was still under construction.
Passengers will be ferried free of charge by bus on a roughly three-hour trip to Abuja along a road famous for kidnappings and banditry in a region where nomadic herdsmen and farmers engage in frequent deadly clashes. Officers from the air force, road safety corps and the secret police will be posted along the road linking the two cities, and officials have assured the public that everyone will be safe.