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Regulators dismiss ‘security risk’ claim at Kaduna International Airport

By Wole Oyebade (Lagos) and Joke Falaju (Abuja)
26 March 2017   |   4:31 am
Regulatory bodies in aviation sector have dismissed recent claims that the Kaduna International Airport (KIA) falls below standards and a disaster waiting to happen.

Kaduna International Airport

Contractor Assures On Completion Of Abuja Airport Runway Rehabilitation On Schedule

Regulatory bodies in aviation sector have dismissed recent claims that the Kaduna International Airport (KIA) falls below standards and a disaster waiting to happen.

Apex regulatory agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the airport that has just been upgraded to international status, with new navigational aids and other infrastructure cannot suddenly be a risk to the well informed.

The House of Representatives, last Thursday, alleged collapse of security that is likely to arise from inadequate ramp markings, poor fuelling and cattle intrusion into the Kaduna airport.

The alarm followed a motion by Adeyinka Ajayi, Osun Central Federal Constituency II (Ifelodun/Boripe/Odo-Otin), Osun State, which drew the lawmakers’ attention to ‘safety concerns around aviation activities at the Kaduna International Airport. He told the House that if not checked, along with the congestion of the airport by air travellers, the Federal Government might lose its International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) license.

Spokesperson of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said it was not for the regulatory authority to join issues with lawmakers, but to look forward to opportunities to clear the air on their observations.

Adurogboye said it was not the first time the lawmakers would raise such alarm over what they do not understand.

He said: “Once they come there for inspection, things will be explained to them and their fears will be allayed. There was one honourable that once said he would rather go by road than travel by air. But we will have a platform where we just need to explain things to them. They say things that are not fact based or any empirical study. It’s like saying an aircraft is not safe because the body is dirty. Things don’t work that way in aviation.

“Kaduna is not a new airport. It has been upgraded to conduct international operations with everything brand new. Can such now be called a disaster waiting to happen? Status of an airport is by the facilities on ground. That is how airports are categorised and they are known worldwide.

All these should be known because they are not hidden. At the appropriate time, the authorities will react to that,” Adurogboye said.

Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, added that one of the most important facilities that determine rating of an airport is the level of equipment on ground.

Akinkuotu said so far as the Kaduna Airport is concerned; it has a newly installed and calibrated Instrument Landing System (ILS) that is “highly sophisticated and dependable equipment.”

He said: “The successful landing of the Ethiopian Airline Jet- Boeing 787 and a deluge of other local flights at Kaduna ever since the closure of Abuja airport is a pointer to the fact that our navigational aids are performing optimally and can contend with the increased traffic on a 24-hour basis.”

Aviation security expert, Abdullahi Quadri, said the concerns raised by the lawmakers were genuine, saying they are logistics issues that could easily be addressed by officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Quadri said: “I have been to the airport, but I really don’t think it is as bad as the alarm raised. I have seen a lot work done, including the perimeter fencing, which is very key. So, I see no reason for the hot air. It is a new airport that is still trying to cope with other small details, but the most essentials are in place.”

Meanwhile, 25 days into the reopening of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Julius Berger Construction Company, handling the rehabilitation of the runway has assured that rehabilitation work on the runway is going as scheduled.

When the officials of the FAAN took The Guardian on tour of the runway it was observed that rehabilitation work has fully commenced as the entire 3.6km length of the runway has been scrapped and the first layer of asphalt laid.

It was learnt that three layers of asphalt would be applied on the runway, after the first layer, another two layers of asphalt would be applied.

The head of Civil in charge of the project, Engr Nuhu Mustapha said: “As at today, we are meeting up with the programme set for the project and every one is believing that before the set date for the re-opening of the airport work would have been completed.”

“The thing is that when rain fall on an ongoing project it affects the soft base, so when rain fell in town yesterday (Thursday) we were afraid, praying it does not get here, and thank God it didn’t. However we have gone past the soft base, as the first layer of asphalt has been laid, so if rain falls now, the workers would just stop work for the time and continue when the rain subside”.

He disclosed that the latest technology of Reinforced Fiber Glass was first laid on the runway before the laying of the asphalt. This, according to him would prevent cracks.

He said the technology is the first of its kind in Africa, as it has only been used in Germany.

The Guardian gathered that the rehabilitation was designed to last for another 10 years.