By Ikenna Uwadileke
The House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its Committee on Aviation to investigate activities at the Kaduna International Airport to ensure that international safety standard were met.
The house also asked the committee to inspect ongoing rehabilitation at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and report back within one week.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion entitled “Need to Review and Ensure that Kaduna International Airport Complies with Operational and Safety Requirements as Contained in Prescribed Aerodrome Standard of Nigeria Civil Aviation Acts and Regulation’’.
It would be recalled that due to a temporary closure of the Abuja airport for runway repairs, international flight operations were diverted to Kaduna airport as alternative.
Moving the motion under matters of urgent public importance, Rep. Adeyinka Ajayi (Osun-APC) said safety concerns had surfaced at the Kaduna airport in spite of assurances by the Federal Government.
The Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency assured that the airport would be fit and safe to handle the new traffic.
According to Ajayi, the ramp markings at the airport are not adequate and the restriction is allegedly been violated by unauthorised users.
“These unauthorised users go right through the ramp marks and this violates international accepted standard relating to airport safety regulations.
“Also, the aircraft manoeuvring and parking space is allegedly inadequate to accommodate the high number of aircrafts now operating in and out of the airport.
“The fuelling installations and procedure at the airport grossly fall short of international standard and pose grave danger to employees, passengers and the public,’’ he said.
The lawmaker further said that some aviation marketers transferred Jet A-1 product from bulk road tankers directly into equipment right on the tarmac and discharging same into aircrafts.
“These marketers could not have been licensed to operate at the airport using this dangerous and illegal procedure neither do they have the requisite for storage nor quality assurance kit needed for required standard,’’ he added.
Ajayi also faulted the perimeter fencing and restriction of access to airside by livestock and local human traffic.
According to him, the airport is inadequately covered thereby leaving the airside and runway vulnerable to invasion by livestock and locals, which is dangerous to aircrafts, life and property.
“This poses a lot of danger to the safety of passengers and aircrafts and can diminish our reputation in the international rating.
“If the safety concerns are not addressed, the country is at risk of losing its international Civil Aviation Organisation license,’’ Ajayi said.
Contributing, the Majority Leader, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos-APC), said that the concerns raised in the motion had damaging consequences.
“If other airlines apart from Ethiopian Airline decline to use the airport, it goes to raise questions as to what do they know that we don’t know and have they communicated same to anybody?
“This is particularly when these airlines are to incur some economic losses and they decided to take the heat rather than use Kaduna airport,’’ Gbajabiamila said.
Also, the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor (Delta-PDP), said there was need for the Committee on Aviation to intervene.
He said that the construction work going on within the airport posed a great danger to the safety of passengers.
“I suggest that the construction work can go on in the nights while planes land in the day time to avoid any mishap,’’ Ogor said.
Opposing the motion, Rep. Garba Datti (Kaduna-APC) said that flight operations had been on at the airport for about two weeks without hitches.
He said that the issue of discharging fuel inappropriately was not the shortcomings of the Kaduna airport authorities,’’ Datti said.
The motion was unanimously adopted and the house mandated the Aviation Committee to investigate the issues.