Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that Government is providing safety critical equipment, especially things like fire cover to forestall the recurrence of unfortunate accidents like the December 10, 2005 Sosoliso crash.
Sirika who remembered the crash which occured in Port Harcourt said a lack of fire cover all but guaranteed the death of the surviving children of Loyola Jesuit College crash who died during the fire which engulfed the aircraft after the plane went down.
Sirika made these known while taking delivery of the remaining eight(8) of ten (10) Volkan Lion 6×6 fire fighting vehicles delivered to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Aeronautical Rescue and Fire Fighting Services ( ARFFS) worth over N12bn at the weekend.
He said the absence of fire cover at any aerodrome or inadequate fire cover is enough to either shutdown or downgrade the facility and that it is the critical element apart from the runway that can cause an airport closure because of their importance.
According to him, the importance of the safety equipment procured are not emphasised enough because they are key to safe, secure and efficient take off and landing in the sector.
He said,”To non- aviators and onlookers, you see fite fighting equipment but the importance and relevance is not brought onto focus especially for people watching from afar whose only concern is to board aircraft and use air conditioned terminals.
“Well for us, that is important too but most important is to keep you safe. You all remember our children that left Abuja for Port Harcourt in the Sosoliso crash? We couldn’t save those children because even though the plane landed , crashed they were still alive but the airport did not have adequate fire cover to save those ones and parents were seeing their children burning alive, children they sent to school. That is so sad.
He continued on the importance of fire cover stressing,” For 15 years no fire tender has veen supplied to us, we just cannibalise two or three to make one. And the absence of fire cover is the number one reason to shut down airports and even if you dont have enough, you downgrade the airport to a lower category.”
Speaking earlier in his opening remark, Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu said the ten (10) super-structure, ultra-modern major firefighting vehicles were to be deployed to MMA Lagos, NAIA Abuja and MAKIA Kano FAAN is processing for additional vehicles for Port-Harcourt and Enugu.
Giving a breakdown of the capabilities of the equipment, Yadudu said,” Each vehicle not only carries 14,000 litres of water; 1,700 litres of foam and 250kg powder capacity; it also monitors the discharge rate of between 6,000Litres to 10,000 Litres per minute. Acceleration rate is from 0 to 80km/hr in 30 seconds.
“The truck can discharge while in motion (professional pump and roll operation) and is equipped with under chassis nozzles to tackle running fuel fire. These vehicles would be deployed to MMA Lagos, NAIA Abuja and MAKIA Kano while we are also processing for additional vehicles for Port-Harcourt and Enugu.”
He continued ,”In addition to acquisition of the major firefighting vehicles we have procured eight (8) new water tankers for continuous agent applications and more will still come. Additional eleven (11) ambulances were also procured to replace the obsolete ones that were bought in 1996. For the first time the Fire Chiefs have their Response Commanders’ Vehicles, the two new Prado jeeps were deployed to MMA and NAIA respectively, more will also be procured in due course.
According to him, comprehensive training for the end users of these vehicles and mechanical units would be given to ensure the vehicles are not only used as specified by the manufacturers, but would also be maintained accordingly.