By KENNETH EHIGIATOR
Sequel to the stowaway incident at Benin airport penultimate Saturday, aviation security experts have commended the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, for taking additional security measures to forestall runway incursions at airports in the country.
The Chairman of Aviation stakeholders Squaretable, Capt. Balarabe Usman, told newsmen that the aviation industry had suffered many years of neglect which was inherited by the present administration.
Usman noted that security equipment and facilities were allowed to decay, even as some were abandoned, adding that there were several efforts to build perimeter fencing at the various airports in the country, especially the major airports, but were abandoned halfway.
Usman, who was the former Chief Security Officer of FAAN and an aviation security consultant, said if the agency had completed the initial projects on perimeter fencing, the situation would not have degenerated to the level where there was no perimeter fencing at some airports.
He said: “While we condemn the failure of FAAN to provide adequate security at the airside of some of these airports, we have to also commend the efforts being made by the Ministry of Aviation to reinforce security to forestall such incident happening in future.
“I know that what this government inherited were decayed terminals, security equipment and non-existence facilities but since it started the remodelling programme, we have witnessed what have been achieved and we know that most airports in the country will have perimeter fencing and operational vehicles.
“The Federal Government has started deployment of sophisticated screening equipment in various airports and simultaneously kicked off training of personnel to man this equipment.”
A security expert and the CEO of Centurion Securities Limited, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), said during the auditing of airport security by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, that FAAN had failed to provide perimeter fencing and security fencing of airports in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
He said the Category 1 safety status Nigeria obtained from the US Federal Aviation Administration was in the hope that the country would improve its security systems at the airports.
FAAN said recently that bushes at airports would be cleared to ensure full view of the perimeter, allow both the control tower, FAAN fire and rescue observation posts and aviation security patrol teams have a sweeping view of the perimeter of an airport from their duty posts.
It also declared that at every airport without fully functional perimeter fence, a security vehicle would be deployed to a point within full view of aircraft as it taxies out to take off and maintain visual scrutiny and, if necessary, respond to any situation until every departing aircraft is safely airborne.