FG suspends aviation conference over COVID-19

By Dirisu Yakubu, Abuja

As part of the requirements for the re-certification of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, has held an emergency mock rescue exercise for difficult terrain in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The exercise witnessed the participation of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Federal Fire Service, Nigerian Air Force, and all sister agencies involved in air mishap rescue operations.

At the General Aviation Terminal, GAT, of the international airport, a make-believe drama was staged, featuring agitated parents bent on getting information on the safety of their ward aboard a crashed aircraft. They screamed and threatened to bring the airport down if they were not told of the fate of their beloved ones on board. It was a stage performance that reminded everyone of the danger of air mishap.

Fielding questions from journalists at the end of the event, Mahmud Sani, Regional Manager (North Central) of FAAN said the simulation exercise became necessary in order to test the professional capacity of interventionist agencies in times of an accident. He expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the mock performance, adding that all agencies called for the event responded timely and acted in a very professional and responsible manner.

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He said: “It (simulation exercise) is part of our re-certification process. The airport was certified three years ago and we are in the process of re-certifying the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. This program we experienced today was part of the requirements and we have just done it. We tried with this exercise to see how we can mobilise our human resources in a time of the accident. We have a fire and rescue department with personnel all the time manning the airport 24 hours.

“This exercise enabled them to come out to show how professional they are and can be in terms of mobilization and rescue of victims in difficult terrain. We have been to do that and we were able to test our equipment, that is, our communication gadgets and the ability of our stakeholders to respond to a real accident situation. As an airport operator, we synergize with our sister agencies like fire service, hospitals, construction companies so that in accident situations, we can call on the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA to come to our rescue. Their response was commendable. The hospitals, NEMA, Air Force, Police, Civil Defence, and FRSC were mobilised and they came to site.”

On his assessment of the exercise, Sani said the agency would do every possible to serve the best interest of Nigerians saying, “The exercise was for us to see some failures and correct them.

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We are going back to access ourselves in the emergency operation centre with all the stakeholders. We had some observers that covered the exercise and we want them to tell us what they saw as our shortcomings. We will work on those shortcomings,” he assured.

Also speaking, Rindap Nantim, Deputy General Manager, Aerodrome department of FAAN, said the agency is now better prepared to respond to emergencies than before.

He dismissed reports that inadequate water has often been a challenge for firefighters in rescue operations.

“The issue of lack of water does not apply to the aerodrome department because we have water supply everywhere. What people don’t understand is that these vehicles have been designed to operate within a given period of time.

The moment you arrive at the crash scene, the first three minutes if the man does not have the required training, he uses the monitor to exhaust that in less than a minute, because a 10,000 litres capacity vehicle can exhaust its water in three minutes. With the training that has been going on, our men are better positioned and have the response capability to carry out their job very well,” he explained.

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