THE Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has attributed the delay in the certification of the Yenegoa Airport in Baylesa State to the absence of adequate perimeter fencing at the number one gateway airport.
Revealing this during the week, the acting director-general of the NCAA, Captain Abdullahi Sidi, declared that the lack of perimeter fence had prevented the regulatory organisation from issuing the airport the required certification.
Sidi, however, assured that once the perimeter fences were perfected, the NCAA would not hesitate to issue it certificates for commencement of operations, but maintained that the government would not compromise security.
He used the opportunity to explain why full commercial flight operation was yet to commence at Yenegoa Airport despite its inauguration six months ago.
“That perimeter fencing is the only thing remaining for the Bayelsa Airport. There is no politics about it. That is the requirement. And anything security is taken seriously. It is a security issue. If we need to close an airport because of security issue, we will, until they comply.
“Somebody called me on the issue of Bayelsa Airport, then, I did my investigation. Perimeter fencing is number one requirement for any airport, which is safety. Someone said the government has done about 60 per cent of the perimeter fencing and said the other side of the airport is creek, but I said that is not acceptable to the aviation industry.”
While lauding the present security arrangements at major airports across the country, particularly the international aerodromes despite some of the teething challenges at the airports, Sidi said the major aerodromes in Lagos and Abuja have continued to receive high ratings in the area of security in the international communities.
Sidi who coincidentally is the Director of Operations and Training at the NCAA stated that Lagos and Abuja airports had consistently scored over 90 per cent in international security audits, just as he pledged that the government would continue to focus on security and safety at the nation’s airports.
According to him, both the air and passenger sides of the airports are equipped with security gadgets like the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, which he said made it extremely difficult for intruders to penetrate restricted areas of the airports without detection, recalling that as far back as December 2009 during the underpants bomber, Abdumutallab criminal attempt, that the security gadgets installed in strategic areas were able to track him down.
Without the high security networks in Nigerian airports, Sidi said the sole American airline, Delta operating into the country would have ceased operations, stressing that the Department of Transport (DoT), United States personnel, audit the Lagos airport almost every three months because of its interest.
“Inasmuch as we have some minor security issues, Nigeria airports especially the Lagos and Abuja, security-wise, we have achieved 96 per cent of the International Security Audit of our airports and if you remember, not long ago, Senator Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, collected certificate from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Canada for achieving very high security standards at our airports.
“Every airport must have what is called perimeter fencing, which could be solid wall with a buffer and sharp fence to stop pilferation into the airport environment. Also, we have what we called the airside and the passenger side of an airport. The airside is supposed to be much more secured than the passenger side. I am happy to tell you that even the passenger side all have Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras.
“So, it is difficult for any unlawful person to penetrate the airport without tracking the person. I hope you can remember the Abdumutallab era in 2009, he was tracked and even between then and now, a lot has improved in the system.”
Sidi, however, noted that some of the security challenges in the country’s aviation industry were not peculiar to Nigeria alone, stressing that each country had its own security challenges that it battles.