Only New Security Architecture Can Guarantee Safety At Airports – Babatunde

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CAN YOU ASSESS THE SECURITY OF THE NATION’S AIRPORT?

The security protocols implemented at any airport are not only those things you can see with your eyes or hear about, a lot evolve from a well articulated and approved National Security Programme, which is a resultant document based on a painstakingly documented security risk assessment and safety management system.

It is also highly reliant on security education available to other airport users aside the proper and regular training of AVSEC and other security operatives. Investment in technology without corresponding training for effective operator manning is a waste. The effectiveness of intelligence can also not be over emphasised; all agencies must have a system of regular sharing of information.

Lastly, terrorists are usually ahead of Management, thus the need for constant assessment of threat and regular upgrade of technology to meet the latest threat levels. To answer your question, a lot of redesigning of the airports is going on which I expect should include a change of the security architecture; I also expect an intensive re orientation and training of our operatives on the latest forms of threats. All these coupled with the acquisition of the right technologies for perimeter security, access control, explosive detection, baggage xray screeners, and other issues as might have been thrown up in the security risk assessment.

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CAN NIGERIA REALLY SECURE ITS AVIATION INDUSTRY CONSIDERING THAT? TERRORISM IS BECOMING MORE SOPHISTICATED?

Nigeria is a signatory to the Chicago Convention that produced the operating standards commonly referred to as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annexes. The practice of aviation security is guided by the same international principles as enshrined in ICAO annex 17. All things being equal, and management ensuring full compliance with the operating principles which includes healthy working relationship with all security agencies at the airport, and government making the right investments in training and technology. We are more than capable of protecting our civil aviation. Also cast your mind back to the trend of terrorism in aviation, from the Lockerbie, Scotland bombing which led to the introduction of baggage scanning and reconciliation, then to the 9/11 attacks in the US, which led to the implementation of full baggage scanning (hand-held or checked in), to the chemical bombs attempts in the United Kingdom, culminating in the liquids and gels ban, to the Muttallab planned bombing episode and the introduction of whole body scanners, our airport management have responded to the trends and complied with ICAO guidelines and directives. We may however expect a more proactive treatment of the emerging trend because of their unique nature.

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IN VIEW OF THE CURRENT SECURITY CHALLENGES IN THE COUNTRY, WHAT IS YOUR SUGGESTION TO ENSURE THAT AVIATION SECURITY IS NOT COMPROMISED?

Aviation security is a professional practice guided by international practice. My advice is on two levels and both hinge on the personnel.

We need to ensure that there are no fundamentalists in the Aviation security workforce. This requires stringent background screening of all operatives and all airport workers with access to the airside. And the rule of the game is in continuous training of security personnel to cope with the latest trend of threats and technology interventions. This requires serious funding from the government.

THERE HAVE BEEN SUGGESTIONS THAT A SPECIAL OUTFIT BE TRAINED AND USED AS THE AVIATION SECURITY AND THEY SHOULD ALSO BE ALLOWED TO CARRY ARMS IN PLACE OF CURRENT FAAN’S AVIATION SECURITY (AVSEC), DO YOU THINK IT IS RIGHT?

There is nothing wrong with the present structure if the entire articles of the FAAN ACT as they relate to Aviation Security (AVSEC) are implemented to the letter. Don’t forget, prior to Professor Aborishade’s watch, as Aviation minister, AVSEC used to be a department under the Airport Operation Division. What is required is to re energise the Directorate, with the right incentives and encouragement to implement best practices. And as you also mentioned, the operatives are supposed to bear arms as contained in the FAAN ACT.

2013 IS THE DEADLINE FOR COUNTRIES TO COMPLY WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION’S NEW POLICY ON CARGO AND BAGGAGE SCREENING (DOUBLE VIEW SCREENING EQUIPMENT) DO YOU THINK NIGERIA CAN MEET UP WITH ITS IMPLEMENTATION BEFORE THE APRIL 2013 DEADLINE?

I am sure you are asking about the EU regulation EU185/2010. Let me give you a summary as originally released. EU regulatory deadline: At the end of April 2011, passengers who fly from non-EU nations into EU airports for connections, are able to carry liquids purchased at the departure airport or in-flight in their hand luggage, as long as the item is in a Secure Tamper Evident Bag (STEB) with a receipt attached and the liquid has been screened using an EU LEDS Type C Standard 1 endorsed system.? To meet this requirement, airports must deploy only approved LEDS systems. The TSA have also issued amendments agreeing with the EU. The themes are; Appropriate screening based on risk; Use of Dual view conventional x-ray systems; Use of explosive detection systems (EDS); Use of. Material specific technologies (EDS, Dogs, Trace e.g. MO-2m Explosive. Trace detectors)As an illustration, the Rapiscan 620 Dual Views is an approved LEDS Type C Standard 1 system and meets these requirements. The initially planned April 2011 deadline for compliance has been postponed to April 2013, after several EU countries signaled that they were not ready to implement the new rules. The European Commission has advised EU member States to defer implementation temporarily. On April 29, 2013, the liquids ban will be completely lifted for all passengers with carry-on liquids at EU airports. As of that date, however, all liquids must be screened at checkpoint with an approved Liquid Explosive Detection System (LEDS) such as 620DV.

?In Nigeria, I am aware that NAHCO has taken the lead in compliance through the acquisition of the Rapiscan 632 dual view cargo screening machine and also some explosive trace detectors. We expect the ministry of aviation will help the airports in the 2012 budget to ensure they are compliant before deadline in April 2013.

INFRASTRUCTURE IS A MAJOR CHALLENGE IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY IN NIGERIA, HOW DOES THIS IMPACT ON SECURITY OF AIRPORTS, AIRCRAFT AND PASSENGERS?

That’s true, but if you look at it closely, you will discover that the problem is actually from the erratic power supply that shortens the life span of the equipment. From the air conditioning to carousels, to other service equipment, power has been a major spoiler. We need to resolve the power issue and embark on an efficient maintenance regime, of course there are gaps in adequacy which government must address.

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