…urges operators to ensure airport users comply with protocols
To curtail the spread of the new strain of COVID -19 virus, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it is automating access points into all airports, especially international terminals to reduce overcrowding of the facilities and possible human to human interface.
Its Managing Director, Captain Hamisu Rabiu Yududu who disclosed this in an interview with The Nation at the weekend said the authority was leaving nothing to chance in ensuring passengers, airline personnel ground handling operators, eateries and duty shop operators at airports adhere strictly to the prescribed protocols rolled out by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The FAAN boss said besides measures rolled out during the first wave of the pandemic, the authority has not relented in ramping up efforts by its personnel to sensitize members of the public and airport users on the dangers of not complying with the guidelines.
The authority, he said continues to step up the game in ensuring the major planks of the protocols/guidelines – social distancing, sanitization, fumigation of baggage and reduction in person-to-person interface at airline counters are adhered to starve off further spread of the virus.
Yadudu said such steps had become necessary so as not to erode the confidence of air travel. He said once passengers have lost confidence in air travel, huge potential of the sector will be lost.
He said: “We are implementing enhanced measures for access control in line with COVID -19 Protocols at all airports. The regulations have not changed. We continue to implement security access measures at the airports to guard against crowd control, we are carrying automation of all entry points into the airport to reduce a person to the person interface. With technology access control has improved to ensure people who do not have any business do not come into the terminal building. With reducing interface with humans, it has improved because you cannot bribe the computer to grant you access.
“We have commenced automation of all access points into all international airports. This has become imperative for the airport authority because we are tired of forcing people to comply with the regulations. Arresting violators and taking them to court for unlawful access into the airport is taking a lot of time and resources, we prefer the automation model, which precludes people who are not authorized to gain access, rather than running around spending money and quality time from deterring people from doing the wrong thing. People are constantly enlightened to stop doing the wrong thing by gaining unauthorized access into critical national infrastructure, it is not about FAAN, but a matter of national security. We are even tired and scandalized for arresting people who violated airport rules, it is negative on our national image. Needlessly, we prefer people who have no business to not come into the airport.
“We have stepped up efforts to automate all access points into our international airports. The whole idea is to get the whole process automated. We have fast-tracked automation of our facilities; we expect other facilitating agencies to standardize their services in Kano, Port Harcourt and others. “We are already sustaining efforts in the implementation of COVID -19 protocols at all airports in the country. We started this protocol many months ago and we will continue to sustain it, though it is taking a huge toll on our resources. Our revenue is down right now by 30 per cent and our expenditure has doubled. Now, the revenue has dwindled, but thankfully, we have been getting a lot of support from the Federal Government to keep our operations going. Without the kind of support, we are getting from the government, I do not think we will still be offering services.
“We have been maintaining the COVID – 19 protocols, which are very simple, sanitization, temperature check, fumigation of baggage. The most difficult challenge we have had is the enforcement of these regulations at the airport. Sadly, a lot of people tend to underestimate the impact of these protocols; you go to the airport and see stakeholders violating these protocols. We spend a lot of time sensitizing people on the need to adhere to the COVID – 19 protocols, it is a shared responsibility, enforcing them is everyone’s business.
“We continue to step up awareness among airport users to boost the confidence of the travelling public. There is no compromise and continue to step up the confidence of airport users.”
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