Transport

FAAN to scrutinise on-duty-card issuance over security breaches at airports

There are plans by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to henceforth scrutinise thoroughly beneficiaries of its On-Duty-Cards (ODC).

FAAN, according to a source, adopted this step in order to check the recent security breaches recorded in some of the nation’s airports in in the past few months.

It was learnt that the cards that would henceforth be issued by FAAN would restrict access to some of the beneficiaries unlike at present where most of the holders of the agency’s cards have unrestricted access to several restricted areas of the airport especially at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.

The ODC is renewed annually by FAAN but there are concerns that some holders of the cards who were either sacked or retire still regularly renew their ODC because of lack of proper scrutiny by the agency.

Apart from the various security and paramilitary workers who are issued the ODCs, ground handling staff, profilers, airline staff, cleaning services staff, catering company workers, business owners and others are also in possession of the cards.

Investigation reveals that apart from those who gain entrance to the airport through numerous unauthorised ways and are suspected to perpetuate some of the recent crimes, some of the holders of the ODCs too are not exempted from the recent crimes.

There are different colours of ODCs issued workers at the airport; red, green and blue. The colours restrict access to the holders, but the move of FAAN if scaled through, may further restrict movements at the restricted areas of the airport.

General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed the development with our correspondent.

According to her, the review was part of measures to strengthen security at airports across the country by ensuring strict personnel monitoring.

She reiterated that the renewal of the cards would henceforth be thoroughly scrutinised by FAAN.

She added, “We’re reviewing the issuance of the ODCs because of recent security issues. Usually, the red card gives access to every part of the terminal and beyond, while the green and blue give access to certain areas.

“For those who do business at the airports or own shops, we are restricting them to wherever their business is and not beyond. The card will now only take them to their business places or offices. Those who have no business being in certain areas will no longer be there. It is a permanent measure to control movement. We’re tired of having touts and unwanted people in sensitive areas of the airport.”

It would be recalled that the porosity of the nation’s airports was recently exposed with different poaching and attempted poaching of aircraft on the runways especially the one at the Lagos Airport.

It would be recalled that last November, a private jet owned by Vistajet and operated by EAN was allegedly attacked on the runway of Lagos Airport while the check-in luggage of the airhostess was carted away by the attackers.

Although, FAAN dispelled the story, but not a few were convinced about the claim of FAAN.

Also within the same month, Tiwa Savage and Wizkid aircraft was also said to have been poached on its arrival from an airport in Nigeria’s South-South geopolitical zone.

Besides, in February, robbers operating within the perimeter fence of the airport, attempted to burglarise a Ghana-bound CRJ jet, preparing for takeoff.

The burglars purportedly opened a cargo door of the CRJ aircraft, tore up the cargo hold bag holders and tried to steal passenger bags, but the experienced pilot, recognising what was happening, unleashed hot gas on the thieves, scaring them away.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018, an Air Peace aircraft from Lagos was prevented from landing at the Akure Airport, as cows took over the runway.

It took the efforts of airport security and other aviation staff to clear the runway before the aircraft could land at the airport.

The aircraft, according to Mr. Chris Iwarah, the Spokesman of the airline, spent at least seven minutes hovering in the air before the runway could be cleared for the aircraft to land.

Iwarah said: “At about 12:15pm the control tower advised our pilot to hold because cows were on the runway of the airport. The flight held for about seven minutes. They also called the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria’s Aviation Security department to clear the runway, which was done. The pilot was asked to land after the runway was cleared.

“The aircraft landed safely without any incident and passengers were duly informed about the situation while they were still hovering waiting for instruction to land.”

It wasn’t the first time that cows would stray into the runway.

In 2006, an Air France aircraft had a major incident at the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), when the plane collided with cows on landing at the airport. Though, no life was lost, but the image of the country was massively dented.

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