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No Nigerian  airport is safe —  ICAO

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By: Yusuff Babalola

The nation’s four international airports Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt have remained uncertified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), on account of the poor state of infrastructure at the airfields, Nigerian NewsDirect can report.

According to investigations, the four international and 18 local airports scattered across the country are yet to be fully certified by the international aviation monitoring body because they have not been able to meet its conditions for certification.

When international airports like those in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano have not been certified there are categories of aircraft that would not be allowed to operate from such airports and some international airlines may not approve their aircraft to operate in such airports.

Non-certification of airports means that such airports may have safety breaches or the facilities have not met stipulated standards. The conditions that were responsible for the non-certification of Nigerian airports include lack of adequate fire cover, efficient airspace communication infrastructure, water hydrant, fire fighting vehicles, airfield lighting, while poor security of the airports, coupled with lack of perimeter fencing, among others, are factors militating against standard airport system stipulated by the global aviation regulatory body.

As part of requirements for ICAO certification, an airport must have operational and perimeter fencing, certified aviation security personnel, state-of-the-art navigational equipment, while the personnel must be regularly trained and retrained.

Other conditions include standard runway and runway strength known as the Pavement Classification Number (PCN),which enable airports and airlines to know if a given aircraft may put undue stress on a runway, non-interference from government; adequate fire tenders; standard instrument landing systems; fuelling; baggage handling, apron and quick response to distress, among others.

As at today, most of the airports, including the four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, have not been able to meet the conditions not even the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos that was adjudged the busiest in the country.

Also, last week, the regional representative of ICAO, Albert Taylor, said none of Nigeria’s airport could be certified because they have refused to meet the ICAO safety standard.

He explained why the international body through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has not certified any of the nation’s airports saying that none of the airports met ICAO safety standard hence and they could not be certified.

“I think the requirements for certification are published and are known to each member states. The requirements are very comprehensive. So having the know-how and the knowledge and the tools we go to the field and at the end of this workshop we go and see things for ourselves. It is better than seeing things from outside; we can establish teams for each of the four major airports, Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt. And these teams will be equipped with knowledge and skills and kits you have to use to solve all the given problems in order to go through successful certification,” Taylor said.

Efforts  to get the reaction of the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Aierports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Yakubu Dati and the acting General Manager, Public Relations of NCAA, Sam Adurogboye on why the country was  yet to meet the conditions for the certification of Nigeria’s airports proved abortive as calls made to their phones were not answered.

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