May 4, 2019

Questions, allegations on fire outbreaks at Nigeria airports

Questions, allegations on fire outbreaks at Nigeria airports

Nigerian airport

…I was sacked for rejecting fake equipment – Former FAAN MD

By Lawani Mikairu

Aviation stakeholders and members of the flying public are worried by the frequent fire outbreaks experienced in airports across the country; the latest being two weeks   ago   fire scare at the newly commissioned terminal of the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Nigeria airport

Nigeria airport

Recall there was a recent, (April 9th), fire outbreak at Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri that almost consumed the entire terminal of the airport, though no life was lost. The Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos recorded recent fire scare.

I’m satisfied with Ambode’s performance ― Buhari

The fire incident at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja Abuja airport caused stampede among passengers who were waiting to board their flights and temporary stoppage of flight operation, though flights resumed immediately when “all clear” signal was given by the fire fighting department of the airport.

Commenting on what the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, called a “ minor incident” that occurred at the equipment room of the new international terminal of the Abuja Airport, Mrs Yakubu Henrietta ,General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN said: “ The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria hereby notifies the general public of a minor incident that occurred at the equipment room of the new international terminal of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 3:00pm today(Saturday April, 21st)”.

“The incident was however swiftly curtailed by the in-built fire detection and protection system at the new terminal that triggered automatically. The building was designed and built with this protection system. The system comes up when it senses high ambient temperatures and sprays fire extinguishing agent. The residue of powder sprayed by the system was seen in the cloud, there was no fire at all”.

Aside these recent fire incidents, on April 5th, 2017, two technicians sustained injuries while trying to contain an outbreak of fire at the Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano state. According to an eye witness,  the incident occurred at the aviation fuel station of the airport.

Nigerian businesswoman with cocaine hidden in her body nabbed in China

“The incident occurred at exactly 7:30am. There was tension… we saw thick smokes billowing from the station,” the witness said. He further said the firefighters succeeded in putting out the fire after battling with it for over 30 minutes.

On December 19th, 2012, part of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos was gutted by fire. According to an eyewitness , the fire emanated from some cables, which apparently melted under heat, as some welders were working at the extension of ‘D’ Wing of the international  airport.

The same Lagos Airport on October 23, 2014 was saved from being razed down following a quick intervention of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, fire fighters after fire broke out on the fifth floor of the Airport terminal.  The fire, said to have been caused by an electric spark, started at about 11.45 a.m. on the fifth floor.

Fire was again averted at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on July 28, 2016.On that Thursday night, men of the Airport Fire and Rescue Services Department saved the airport from being consumed by fire. The fire which occurred at the E-Wing of the airport terminal emanated from the airport electrical control panel and was quickly put under control by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, fire fighters.

The question stakeholders are asking is why this frequency of fire outbreak in facilities that cost billions of naira to build and facilities that house billions of naira worth of equipment like aircraft. Are the owners of these airports, FAAN, not taken precautionary measures to avert fire outbreak ?

Though these airports are covered by insurance as recently revealed by the Managing Director of FAAN , Engineer Saleh Dunuma when he recently paid on the spot assessment to the burnt Owerrri International Cargo Airport, the process of recovery and rebuilding is quite cumbersome. Most of these  fire outbreaks are attributed to faulty electric cables and panels. There are allegations that the airport terminals and allied structures were built with inferior materials when work at the airports facilities were hurriedly done.

This was confirmed recently after the Owerri Airport fire by a former Managing Director of FAAN who alleged that interference from the   Ministry of Aviation and Presidency never allowed the agency to “effectively manage the airports and provide the needed equipment and materials for efficient running of the airports”.

According to him: “This terminal (Owerri airport terminal) was one of the urgent reasons I was fired. Its promoters were damn too offended by my insistence on certain things being done. There was a consignment of fire fighting foam delivered by a contractor that I insisted to test and found that it could hardly put out fire and rejected it. This caused me unimaginable trouble in Abuja.”

“When they summoned me, I told them I tested the foam and it wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. That it could be any of them (VIPs), including even the President that could be involved in a fire incident in Lagos and we would attempt to fight the fire with this useless foam. Who would take the can (responsibility) if such happened?

FEC approves N4.6bn for construction of 7 Model Schools, N1.6bn for supply of anti-retroviral drugs

“I said no, the foam must go. They did everything to intimidate me to accept the consignment. It was worth N150 million ($1 million at the time). They even said “okay, just use it for training”. I refused. I made very big enemies up to the Villa. This particular guy had been supplying foam to several airports for years. For this, I cancelled his contract (among very many others that I cancelled. This made me a highly controversial Managing Director),” he said.

I think this explanation by the former Managing Director who was in charge of FAAN few years ago says it all.