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Compliance to security standard rules delaying completed N70b Bayelsa Airport—NCAA

Contrary to speculations that the Federal Government was deliberately frustrating issuance of final operational licence, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has given a clear view of the cause of the delays after months of completion by the state government.

In an interview, NCAA made it clear that the N70 billion worth of facility at the massive complex would continue to remain closed until the State government complies with standard rules on security and safety.

The Federal Agency further noted that inadequate perimeter fencing and attendant safety concerns were the key factors holding back the needed final operational licence needed by the State Government to commence commercial flight operations into the new Bayelsa airport in Bayelsa State.

Otherwise, the acting Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Abdullahi Sidi, yesterday confirmed that the airport falls below the security and safety standard, and explains why the airport was denied certification.

Sidi said once the state government erects the perimeter fence, the NCAA would not hesitate to issue it certificate for commencement of operations. He said: “Perimeter fencing is number one requirement for any airport, and that is safety issue. Someone said the government has done about 60 percent 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.

He said “That perimeter fencing is the only thing remaining for 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 close it until they comply,” Sidi said.

Continuing, he argued that “Every airport must have what is called perimeter fencing, which could be solid wall with a buffer and sharp fence to stop pilfering 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 has Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras.”

Giving further insights on the critical importance of security fence in an airport, Aviation Security Consultant, Group. Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said “I have always said that we do not have security fences in most of our airports. We have perimeter fences but definitely not security fence and the people in NCAA and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) know the difference between the two. Those of us within know that security falls under the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Annex 17 and perimeter falls under Annex 14.”

Business Hilights gathered that the said lack of security standard rules regulation was key provisions of the global regulatory body domiciled by every nation including Nigeria.

Otherwise, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations mandate standard airports to have both perimeter and security fences.

ICAO annex 14 sees to perimeter fence, while annex 17 has provisions for a security fence.

“The Bayelsa State government opened the new airport in February 2019 with the hope of attracting both regional and international flights. But since the commemoration, the facility has remained closed to commercial operations,” Ojikutu added.