FAAN, NSA to eliminate multiple physical checks at airports

…Reduce military, paramilitary personnel at aerodromes

 

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) have concluded plans to reduce the number of military and paramilitary personnel at Nigeria international airports who have physical touches with passengers’ baggage multiple times thus constituting delays and numerous inconveniences to travellers passing through the airports.

Over the years, complaints have increased about the unnecessary multiple checks of passengers’ belongings carried out by the many security agency officers who mount checkpoints inside the terminals of international airports.

Experts in the aviation industry have called for a streamlining of such exercises and a drastic reduction of such agency personnel. In contrast, others suggest a centralised structure of checks be adopted to reduce the number of human contacts passengers’ belongings are subjected to.

Managing Director of FAAN, Mrs Olubunmi Kuku at the weekend disclosed that the agency and the office of the NSA have agreed to carry out short and long-term measures to address the issue including the creation of a joint coordination room where all the agencies can view CCTV cameras to ascertain what they are looking for.

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Kuku described the development as disturbing but affirmed that the issue was the first thing she inquired about upon assumption of office adding that she sat down with the National Security Adviser, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu to discuss how to streamline the facilitation processes.

While addressing complaints on multiple baggage checks, the FAAN MD said “On the issues of the checking of baggage, it borders me so much and that was the first inquiry that I made when I assumed office. As far back as 2011 and 2012 when I was in the industry, I have worked on this with the former Minister.”

She said, “It goes beyond FAAN, a lot of those agencies, Customs, NDLEA, Quarantine, Agriculture, we now have EFCC, we have almost everybody at the airports, we had Executive order 001 during the Buhari administration to move them out under the then Vice President office, now we have the National Single Window, I have personally sat with the NSA over the last five weeks to have conversations with him as to how we will streamline the facilitation.”

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She disclosed saying “We have agreed on a few things, the first one is a short-term intervention where we reduce the number of agencies at the airports because we have some that were doing just sort of routine checks, just moving around to observe rather than disturbing passengers.”

The second is the longer term, a joint coordination room, we do have cameras, so we are asking all of those agencies, depending on what it is they are looking for to move to the joint coordination room to look at the cameras and observe and for those that are more concerned with the baggage, they can move down to where we load the bags, that way they have better visibility than disturbing passengers.”

However, she explained that the opening of passengers’ baggage was for a reason adding that “I believe that came about a couple of years ago, a lot of countries had issues with scanning devices that were coming from certain countries and as such they require secondary screening. You will see that some of the airlines have companies doing secondary screening on their behalf but a lot of passengers will think that it is FAAN because we are the face of the agency and the airports.”

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“But that doesn’t take away from the coordination room that we have, so we take responsibility, we are trying to solve it. We are trying to have dual view cameras and put them and explosive devices a bit farther so that we are doing a secondary check without opening your bags.”

“If you go to Frankfurt for example, even after you get off the aircraft and go through security, for any flight that is departing for the US and certain countries, you will see that a secondary screening happens, is just that they are dipping their hands in your bags. Please bear with us, it is coordination that is required not just with FAAN, the NSA has stepped in and is now helping us vigorously.”

 

Wole Shadare

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