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FG beefs up Security at Airports, Aviation Security to bear Arms

by on January 5, 2017
 
 The Federal Govern­ment has approved more measures to beef up security at the na­tion’s airports.
Among the measures, the government approved that avi­ation security personnel should henceforth bear arms and oth­er relevant equipment in the course of their duties to shore up the safety of passengers and facilities at the country’s air­ports.
The government said the arming of guards and other se­curity measures at the airports will take the style of similar avi­ation efforts put in place by the Transportation Security Ad­ministration (TSA) of the Unit­ed States of America (USA).
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, dis­closed this at a press briefing on Wednesday after the Fed­eral Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Vil­la, Abuja.
He said that President Mu­hammadu Buhari approved the measure last week.
Sirika said the adminis­tration was taking aviation re­forms beyond aesthetics to focus on safety, and that the Ministry of Interior has been involved to ensure its success.
According to him: “Our fo­cus is not on the beautification of airports or having robust structures for aesthetic reasons. Our own focus is to ensure that we are safe and secure.
“What concerns me is how you depart point A and land in point B safely. These are things you don’t see. You will soon see tremendous improvement.
“We are very serious about aviation security. Just last week, the President approved that avi­ation security should bear arms. So, we are trying to make them take the form and shape of TSA of the U.S. with K-9 dogs, hand­cuffs, the guards, the batons, light weapons, etc.
“The Minister of Interior is helping us in that regard with the directive of the President. They are partnering with us and other stakeholders to keep our airports secure. All these will be unveiled at the next (aviation) stakeholders’ meeting.”
He also revealed that ahead of the shutdown of the Abuja Airport in March, the FEC ap­proved the completion of Ka­duna Airport terminal build­ing within six months, at a cost raised from over N500 million when it was awarded in 2011 to N1.1 billion now.
“This is just for the terminal buildings and not the runway”, noted Sirika, who explained that during rehabilitation of the terminal building, the con­tractor noticed some structur­al damages to the building itself and then increased the scope of work which necessitated the variation of the contract sum.
“The cost of variation is in excess of 15 percent; it had to go to the then President Good­luck Jonathan for anticipatory approval. That was approved and they went to BPP. So, we brought it to the Council today to ratify and of course taking into cognisance the exchange rate and inflation that has in­creased the cost of completion of the terminal building”, he stated.
The Minister assured the public that even as the termi­nal is being rehabilitated, it will not affect the operations of the Kaduna Airport because there are enough buildings to carry out the operations of the air­port for the six weeks that the Abuja Airport will be closed for repairs.
He insisted that the Abuja Airport needed to be closed for safety reasons before the bad state leads to serious accidents, especially as the entire struc­ture of the runway has failed.
“The runway was designed for 20 years to cater for not more than 100,000 people per annum; today, it is doing over 5 million persons per annum and has been there for 34 years. So, it is going for 14 years in excess of design”, he explained.
On the need for a second runway for the Abuja Airport, Sirika said: “We will have the second runway through con­cession”.
He stressed that govern­ment was doing its best to ad­dress the challenge of decay­ing aviation infrastructure, especially those of navigation­al and landing aids, declaring that “we have procured a lot of them and we will commence installation”.
He further gave his word that a national air carrier for the country would fly by the end of this year, although the process has been slow because of the need for thoroughness as government would have no more than three percent stake in it.
“We are going to have a na­tional carrier. It is on course and because it is a PPP thing it has to follow all the due pro­cess. So, it is time- consuming but I hope very soon, before the end of the year we will have a very strong, viable national airline”, he added.
Meanwhile, the FEC also ap­proved the procurement of some modern firefighting equipment and the training on them at a cost of N4.6 billion, scaled down from an initial cost of N5.1 billion.
The Minister of Interior, Ab­durahman Danbazzau, disclosed to journalists that the last time equipment was procured for the Federal Fire Service was in 1996.
He said: “We are also hoping that the 2017 Budget will avail us the opportunity to procure more equipment for the Federal Fire Ser­vice and of course, the fire train­ing school.
“We also intend to partner with an entity in reference to train­ing in fire services, particularly in oil and gas sector. We are also going to partner with the state govern­ment. Just about four weeks ago, we had a national council on fire service meeting in Kano and we came up with a communique for us to standardise fire service de­livery all over the country.”

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