Friday, November 14, 2008

Thumbs Up FAAN Security

IT is rare for Nigerian public servants to do their work, especially when confronted with the intimidating appurtenances of officialdom. It is in this light that the security officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, in Ikeja should be praised for standing their grounds against authorised vehicle movement on the tarmac.
This is important because the official involved was the Speaker of the House of Representatives whose aides expected to be assisted in breaking the law on recognition. The media reports tended to present the incident as an affront on the Speaker and his multiple offices –– it was not.
Certain vehicles and persons are permitted to drive through the access gate of airports. The drivers are trained for the purpose and their vehicles equipped to help other airport users and aircraft to identify them.

The Speaker’s 11-car convoy wanted to pass through the access gate of the new domestic airport to beat traffic jam on airport road. The Speaker, who is the Amiru Hajj, was heading to the Hajj Camp at the international arm of the airport to address departing pilgrims.
FAAN security officials stood their grounds for the 30 minutes that the Speaker’s security men tried to intimidate them into breaking the rules.

International civil aviation rules on the matter are –– people bearing arms are not permitted to drive through the airside, the vehicles passing through this restricted area must have aviation amber light and a FAAN licensed airside driver is to guide the vehicles for safety and precautionary reasons.

None of these conditions were met.
It is true this was an unexpected situation. It is equally true that violation of these aviation rules could have endangered other airport users as well as the convoy of the Speaker, whose aides did not see the implications of their convoy passing through a restricted area.
FAAN’s insistence on following the rules was not meant to be an affront on the Speaker and it should be understood in this manner. It was good to see FAAN standing on the side of the law, and we expect that it does this always.

However, the incident brings to the fore the deteriorating state of the access road to the international airport in Lagos . The flooding that results from poor drainage each time it rains locks up traffic in the area for hours, that was the situation on the day the Speaker visited.
Bad portions on the road also create traffic jams that make the place impassable. This is an unacceptable situation for an airport of this importance. The untidiness around the road –– a first visitor’s impression of Nigeria –– is a disgrace. Sadly, the authorities are not paying any attention to this.

The airport road has space for expansion to meet increased traffic. FAAN should address this.
Short cuts, like the one the Speaker’s convoy wanted to adopt, is one of the reasons things are never done properly. We hope others have learnt these safety lessons