Infrastructure, Security Tops FAAN Agenda For 2020
By Joy Kalio and Georges Macnobleson-Idowu
There are indications that 2020 may be a better year for the aviation industry, as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria revealed plans to commission two new terminals in the year 2020.
In an exclusive interview with 99.3 Nigeria Info, FAAN General Manager Corporate Affairs, Henrietta Yakubu said the new airport terminals in Lagos and Kano will ease passenger facilitation, and also provide comfort to travellers as they would be exposed to modern facilities in the new terminals.
Mrs Yakubu said: “Our mission in FAAN and our mandate is to develop customer centric airport at world class standards and our vision is amongst the best airport groups in the world; and we are going in line with that right now.
I mentioned earlier that we delivered two brand new terminals last year. That is one of the efforts that we are doing to ensure that we move in line with what is happening in the world. Dubai came out of nothing to what it is today. Nigeria is trending the same line.
We have a brand-new terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. When the airport was commissioned, I remember a passenger that came out of the aircraft into our avio bridge and into the terminal and she suddenly screamed out “I came to the wrong country.” She couldn't believe that she was in Nigeria. So, we are improving.
And like I said earlier on, two other new terminals will be commissioned this year. So, we are moving in line with what is happening all over the world to develop airports that are good, friendly and world standard too.’’
Speaking on the issue of security; Mrs Yakubu said the MD FAAN, captain Rabiu Yadudu has given permission for a tower to be built at the Murtala Muhammed Airport. She said the new tower is different from the control tower.
‘’It’s just going to be a tower were someone will be there to have access to look at both ends of the runway in case of any unauthorized entry by anybody into our airside for any kind of illegal activity. All these are done to ensure that safety and security is done so that we don’t have issues in our airports again this year.
I’m happy to inform you that we have increased the length of our fencing around the MMA. And we have put on it what we call the Concertina Wire. This wire, if you go near it, is going to slash your skin. So that it is to serve as a deterrent to members of the public that we mean business this year. And we’ve improved on our vehicular patrol on our runways and airside,” she explained.
According to Mrs Yakubu there will be more trainings for Airport personnel this year to keep them abreast with happenings around the world.
“The MD is very serious about training and manpower development. We need to be abreast with what is happening in other parts of the world and this can only be done through training and constant training. Last year, our training School at the MMA was accredited and it became an ACI/ICAO training center’’
Meanwhile, on the area of maintaining good hygiene at the MMA, Mrs Yakubu said that there will be much improvement this year.
“We are doing our best. We have cleaners in all of our airports. I bet when you go to our airport now you will see much improvement. At the MMA we completely removed old sanitary wares and replaced them with brand new ones, and our cleaners are there, after five passengers they go in, they check, they clean up again. It's happening right now. What we are supposed to do we are doing, in line with delivering world class standard facilities in our airports. Our airports are clean now I can assure you, they are not dirty at all.’’
The FAAN General Manager, Corporate Affairs also explained what happened to Jennifer Luka, the aviation security officer who was recently suspended over alleged theft and how FAAN has stemmed the issue, amongst others, at the airport
“What happened with Jennifer Lukas is an unfortunate incident and it was a one-off thing. But I can assure you that now for any person that we employ at FAAN, serious background checks are being carried out on the individual before you are employed. Even if you are employed, we still carry out those checks to ensure that whoever is coming into the system is an honest citizen that will not embarrass FAAN or embarrass the country.’’
Mrs Yakubu stated what FAAN is doing to sanitize travellers on items they should travel with or not.
“Once you come into the airport the first thing you notice at the entrance to any terminal is the screening machine. Once you pass your luggage through the screening machine, whatever item that is there that you are not supposed to travel with, the machine will pick it up and an alarm will go off. There is also a roller banner that state items that you are not supposed to travel with. You are not supposed to travel with sharp object, liquid, perfumes of certain quantity, matches, some of these items are to be put in your checking luggage. If you are military or police, you are not supposed to travel with your gun, you need to check it in, it will be handed over to the air hostess, at the point of disembarkation it will be handed over to you.’’
Mrs Yakubu said the issue of lack of conveyor belts, trolley, and harassment of touts within the airport have being taken care of in the New Year.
“I'm happy to inform you that our aviation security are able to manage and get rid of 99% of touts and touting activities.
I want to use this medium to appeal to members of the public and air travellers, please, when you get to the airport, go as much as possible yourself to the preferred airline you want to use, go their counters, buy your ticket yourself and check in yourself. When you do that you are also helping us to get rid of touts.
And on the issue of infrastructure, that is why we are coming up with new terminals. Some of these facilities have become over stretched. If you know, the MMA was constructed 40 years ago and it was constructed to handle a particular number of passengers. But now we take care of so many millions of passengers in a year. So now, that we are building new terminals that will take care of all of these.
But before then, we are working on improving all of these facilities we have in our lounges. If you go to the MMA, now I can assure you that our Conveyor Belts are working, we service them regularly. Were we need to replace them, we replace them, and the same goes for all the other Airports too.''
Mrs Yakubu also explained why the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria recently banned individuals and agency protocol activities at airports, across the country and what the enforcement has been.
‘’Actually, the enforcement to ban individual and agency protocol activities came from the office of the Vice President of Nigeria and is in line with the ease of doing business. Aviation industry or business is not static, it's progressive. We needed to sanitize our arrival halls. Before now, you see a lot of movements and some of these people have no business but they always come under the guise of protocol, so FAAN decided to streamline it. All the protocol services are now expected to register with FAAN. We have a service we call Passenger Support Service so all the protocol services from the different agencies and ministries register with us. If they have principles they need to receive, they give us information ahead of time, our protocol agencies will receive them on their behalf and bring them out and hand them over to them. They are no longer allowed to come into our arrival halls, they are no longer allowed to go to the avio bridges. Before now you could see some protocol officers at the avio bridges. That is not done anywhere in the world. We are doing this in other to sanitize our terminals and to reduce movement of all kinds’ people in our airport.''
“The MD FAAN captain, Rabiu Yadudu is coming up with a lot of good ideas now. Very soon interface between passenger and most of our staff at the airport will be reduced to the barest minimum. We are improving on our CCTV coverage in 2020.’’
Mrs Yakubu disagreed with the submission that the increase in the rate of drug dealers is based on the lack of adequate facilities or equipment to detect these peddlers at the Airport.
“Let me correct an impression, I mentioned earlier that there are different agencies that work at the airport. Drug detection is not done by FAAN it's done by the NDLEA, that is their sole responsibility in our airports and they are doing all that.’’
“In recent times, a lot of persons have being caught in our airports. I remember at the MMA and at the Mallam Amino Kano Airport they were trying to traffic in drugs. I don't know if you remember the recent incident of someone that ingested 10 wraps of drugs that was caught recently at the MMA. They have their equipment, machinery and the technical know-how to identify persons that are trafficking in these drugs and they are doing the best that they possibly can.’’
Mrs Yakubu spoke on what happened in the past with the issue of cattle on the runway.
“That was before we had perimeter fencing. I’m happy to tell you now that we have perimeter fence almost round most of our airports. It’s were we have gaps that these animals stray into our runways. But most of these airports especially the international airport have perimeter fence around it. So that has taken care of animals coming into our runways.’’
Watch out for another exclusive interview with Josephine Ugwu, the cleaner from FAAN that found bags full of money and returned it!