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MMIABy VICTOR NZE

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is not sure of both the readiness of the Lagos and Abuja international airports’ full with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) certification.

This is just as the agency also stated that it will not certify any airport in the country which fails to meet the required ICAO standard.

Fielding questions by the media, midweek, Director-General of the NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman, said despite his agency having already defaulted on the ICAO deadline for full certification of its five international airports in the country, the Murtla Muhammed International Airport was one step away from full certification.

“Specifically, I may not be able to give you percentage. I know we have had deadline but unfortunately, we have not met because we will not certify anything that is not up to standard. But those challenges are being addressed and I believe within a very short time, very short time, based on what we have in place now, Lagos will be certified.

“The certification process is in five stages and Lagos is about fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate. So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification.  Abuja too once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more. Even though Abuja, some of the things that we needed to put in place were taken care of during the closure of the Abuja airport.

 

“As I said, there are 5 stages: the pre-application stage, formal application stage, document and evaluation of document stage, operational demonstration stage. At this stage, all the documents you put forward, the way you operate, we want to see. And what you say you have in place are there and finally we sign the certificate.

“As I said, signing of certificate is just the beginning. You have certificate and it comes with privilege and you can only access the privilege if you continue to maintain the standards.

On the level of cooperation of other government regulatory agencies in the aviation sectorin the certification process, Usman assured that the NCAA was working in tandem with the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as well as the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) in the process of certifying the five international airports across the country.

“We have been working closely from the beginning, because we have to interact. We have no reason not to cooperate in the first place, because they are desirous of getting airports certified and we are also desirous of certifying the airports. Our common goal is to get the airports certified, in line with the international standard and we have been cooperating.

“They have to show interest first and intent, and formally they will come and put in for the application, the documentation will follow- manuals and so on. At almost every stage, we interact and they have to demonstrate that what they have in place are workable.  Where we have areas where we put limitations, we will put limitations because there is hardly any airport in the world that is operating without some forms of limitations.

“Where there are genuine issues and things are put in place to ensure those safety concerns are addressed. And they are properly documented. It is a requirement that we certify those international airports.

“Currently we have five international airports, where we operate regular international flights.  We started with Lagos and we hope Lagos will be finished in a very short time. Abuja also on course. Whatever lessons we learn in the certification of Lagos will be applied in the certification of Abuja. And whatever we learn in the process of certifying Lagos and Abuja, will be applied towards certifying Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports. And subsequently, we intend to go beyond the international airports,” he said.

On what measures the NCAA has put in place to ensure the process is transparent, Usman said: “The NCAA is set-up to meet all with International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), and we will not go below that to certify the airports. We have been working very well with the relevant airport operator to ensure that those things required are put in place for us to certify the airports at the reasonable time.

“We will not certify any airport that is below standards. We will ensure that airports that have met international standards as specified will be certified.  And we will also mount surveillance to ensure that they continue to meet those standards and recommended practices with them, to continue to exercise privilege of the certificate issued to them.”

Usma who further listed the benefits of the ICAO certification for the country’s international airports to include boosting patronage by foreign airlines entering the country, said the process is based on safety which is required by ICAO to assure international airlines coming into Nigeria that standards have been met.

“That is not to say that what we have now is unsafe, because we have been operating. The airports as they are, are safe and they will be even safer, if we bring it in line with standards and recommended practices- because ICAO wants to bring in uniformity as fuelled by Standard and recommended practices. We have been operating safe, we want everybody to be on the same page, that is why this certification has to be done in line with ICAO standards,” he stressed.

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