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ICAO Audit: Authorities in last minute push to certify MMIA, NAIA

Ahead of the March 2016’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Audit, a committee has been set up with the sole purpose of ensuring that the Murtala Muhammed Airport is certified within 28 days so the country can smoothly sustain its Category One status.

Sources told Nigerian Flight Deck that one of the revelations of the mock audit held in November was that the country must indeed certify the airport before the arrival of the ICAO team.

In Nigeria, no airport has been certified and past authorities had insisted that the airports should be worth certifying before they consider it, thus leaving the airports uncertified.

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

However, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have said that that the task to actually certify the major airports in Lagos and Abuja is achievable.

General Manager Public Affairs NCAA who confirmed the 28 day timeline to our reporter said it could be done stating that the regulatory body had been on it for a while and that the only thing that the NCAA had done is to put a timeline.

“To lay your fears to rest, the task is achievable. We have been on it for a while. What has been done now is to put a timeline. NCAA had preparatory to this time issued the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) with the checklist of the requisite things to be in place. These they have been tackling.”

“Some will involve some levels of training for some level of staff, especially security personnel and also, funds which I believe the Federal Government will assist them.”

“Don’t forget a comprehensive audit by ICAO is in March next year. We have done it before and with all hands on deck, we will succeed.”

This is not the first time a deadline has been set for the certification of the airports in the country, immediate past Minister of Aviation Osita Chidoka in December 2014, had promised that government would ensure that two of Nigeria’s airports in Lagos and Abuja are improved so that they could be this year (2015) but that is yet to be seen.

No Nigerian airport has been certified since 2006 when the law that gave it autonomy to certify airports in line with international regulations was promulgated and major items on the checklist for said certification has a lot to do with security and safety.

The security aspect has to do with control of access to the airport’s sterile areas or airside and the security of other major points like the catering departments, boarding gates, check-in points and perimeter fencing.  The safety aspect, on the other hand, has to do with runway light, taxi way light, approach light, fire station and airport emergency response system, among others.

The essence of airport certification is to ascertain if there are enough personnel and equipment that can guarantee safety and security in any airport.

Though the airports in the country had been given the checklist applicable globally, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is still working to comply with the requirements on the checklist, especially the ‘open items.’

FAAN it is learnt, is battling to close the ‘open items’ on the checklist ahead of the ICAO 2016 audit

Although the airports in the country were yet to be certified by the NCAA, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said the issue of non-certification of the airports was an age-long problem.

The situation, according to him, does not make the airports unsafe as they were still extremely safe.

Dati said, “This does not mean that our airports are not safe. Our airports are very safe and secure. Remember that before American airlines started flying to Nigeria, the United States Transportation Safety Administration officials came here and examined MMIA and approved it safe and secure. In fact, they gave us impressive marks. If the airports were not safe, all these foreign airlines, including American carriers would not have been operating in Nigeria. It is just that getting the airport certified by our own NCAA is just necessary.”

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