Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has revealed that the N60 billion aerodrome of the Bayelsa International Airport which was opened on February 15, 2019 with an inaugural flight, may not operate until it resolves pending International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) security requirements.
The Acting Director General of the NCAA, Capt. Abdullahi Sidi, said on Monday at his Lagos office that the lack of perimeter fencjng around the airport has been the reason why it is yet to operate flights like other aerodromes.
He emphasised that the issue was safety related and has nothing to do with politics
Captain Sidi said a perimeter fencing around the airport is a non-negotiable security feature for the airport’s functionality, and until the issue is resolved, the airport will remain closed.
“Perimeter fencing is the number one requirement for airport safety. When I asked Bayelsans, they said they’ve not finished the perimeter fencing, that they have completed it to 60-80 percent, but on the other side is a creek, water and so on but that is not acceptable,” Capt. Sidi explained.
“If you have water or creek on one side of an airport without fencing, even if you have crocodiles, somebody can ride a boat and get into the airport and then enter your aeroplane and become a stowaway passenger in your airport. Do you understand? Perimeter fencing is what is remaining for Bayelsa Airport to function. There is nothing political about it. We don’t joke with security issues. If we have to close an airport because of security, we will do so until they comply.”
On certification of airports, Captain Sidi said the country is looking forward to the certification of the Port Harcourt International Airport and the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) after the 2017 certification of both the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“This certification process is not as easy as it looks, especially when you allow the infrastructure to be unattended to for quite a long time, and then over a period of time there are changes. If you are not proactive on those changes, you find out by the time you want to do this certification, the airport is either finding it difficult to meet up with the requirements or you give them time,” Sidi said.
“In airport certification, you look at the runway where the airplane lands, you look at the taxiway where the aeroplane parks; you look at the terminal building, then you also look at the equipment that brings in the aeroplane, the VOR and ILS and these are supposed to be calibrated. For the VOR, its 12 months and for the ILS its 6 months. So every airport must have a serviceable landing aid and you make it serviceable by doing the calibration at these specific intervals.
“We calibrate because we want safe take-off and landing and these are parts of the certification processes,” he added.
He further explained that the NCAA has gone a step further to commence airport certification training.
“We brought people from abroad to come and polish our airport certification inspectors, both staff of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Right now as we speak, they are in the class for this training. There is something called recurrent training, after the basic training. Recurrent training comes at intervals and refreshes your mind,” he said.