Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ensuring airport safety, security through facility improvement

Towards shaping Nigerian aviation industry to meet world-class standards, the Federal Government has been embarking on remodeling of airports’ facilities to strengthen security and safety of air travel in the country.

The idea, according to experts, was to boost the fortunes of airliners and air passengers, also with the vision of making airports safe, secure and comfortable.  It would also redeem the image of air travel in Nigeria with the commitment of becoming the hub of aviation in Africa.

They noted that when the remodeling and expansion are completed, air travellers would be checked at the entrance of the airport terminals before they access the departure halls and would also be checked again before going to the airside to board their flights.

The Federal government has also unveiled plans to build five new international terminals in the country. The new terminals are to be built in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

Meanwhile plans are at advance stage to upgrade the existing airports facilities in about 22 locations ‘in line with international best practices.’

According to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the remodeling works on the existing airports are expected to be completed in two years.

At the end of modelling exercise, the 22 airports would have been well renovated, polished and reconstructed to international standard

Speaking with the Guardian, recently, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, Yakubu Dati said the authorities have been working hard to ensure that after the remodeling of the airports, they would meet international standard. He also appealed to the travelling passengers to bear whatever inconveniences they are experiencing for now.

“We are replicating what is going on at the Lagos international airport in 10 other airports in the country for the first phase and second phase would be to 12 other airports in the country.

“The idea is that at the end of two years we will have 22 airports that are completely reconstructed. Apart from that, there are also plans to build five new international airports terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt that is brand new totally because we are preparing the sector to be in line with international best practices and world class standard

Continuing, he said “Aviation is global business and we live in a global world and whatever we are doing, we must do it to meet world standard so that when you step down into our tarmac it should not be different from what you see at Heathrow airport in London.

The facilities should be the same because we are dealing with international travellers so those structures are done to replace aviation where they belong.

Dati raised the hope when he said some of the airports undergoing remodeling would soon be commissioned. “We hope to commission Owerri and Enugu airports before the Christmas, so we have quiet a lot of projects that are ongoing at the same time. We may not be able to know when they would be ready, but we would commission them as soon as they are ready”.

“Our expectations are that the facility will boost the fortunes of airliners as we achieve our vision of making our airports safe, secure and comfortable. These terminal will also redeem our image in the committee of Nations and place us as the hub of aviation in Africa, where we rightly belong”, he said.

The new commissioned General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, provide airport facilities to accommodate passengers while awaiting boarding or arrival and can accommodate the capacity of over 1,000 passengers. It was built at the cost of 648 million naira in a record time of ten months.

Also, the Director of Engineering, (FAAN) Mr. Saleh Dunoma said recently that after the remodeling work on these airports is completed, FAAN would depend more on sophisticated security apparatus based on technology and not on the old system that is human oriented as security threats in the country has taken a new dimension.

The Managing Director of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Nnamdi Udo,  also said that “Air safety is something verifiable, something you can measure and establish. Already, for Abuja airport, before now there have been incessant airfield lighting outage but within 48 hours we were able to bring portable emergency landing system, which had been deployed so we are at second layer level of safety and above that and of course the rehabilitation that is ongoing is almost completed.

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