Capt. AbdulSalam Mohammed, Rector, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria, says encroachment of the college’s land has interrupted its plan to expand its runway from 1.6 kilometers to 2.4 kilometers to accommodate commercial aircraft.
The rector, in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Zaria, said the expansion for the runway was necessary to enhance the college training capacity and accommodate modern aircraft on commercial purposes.
Mohammed noted that the 1.6 Kilometer runway was originally designed for the type of aircraft used for training, but over the years the college had acquired a lot of bigger aircraft.
“Recently, the Vice-President visited Zaria to condole with the family of a youth corps member that was killed, his aircraft could not land in Zaria because it was very big, so he landed in Kaduna and came down to Zaria by a helicopter,’’ Mohammed said.
He said said the college was forced to suspend its expansion plans, as part of the land for such extension was still in dispute.
“Only when we upgrade the runway, the college airport as it is now cannot accommodate commercial operation,” he added.
According to him, the land in dispute was issued in 1964, with official documents clearly showing the demarcation of the college land.
He added that there was also documentary evidence that farmers who owned the land at that time were paid full compensation about 55 years ago.
“Most of the people that are laying claim to the land now either bought it from third party or are probably the grand children of the original owners.
“As far as we are concerned, they are not entitled to any compensation since the original owners were paid compensation.
“As you know, the case was before the law court that is what stopped us from going further. We have to allow the court to determine the cases,’’ he said.
The rector said once the legal issues were resolved, the college would execute the expansion plans.