Any Airport With Deficiencies Will Be Shut Down – DG NCAA

Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General, of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in this interview with OLUSEGUN KOIKI, speaks on the inability of the regulatory body to certify any of the international airports in the country and the recently concluded International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety audit, among others. Excerpts:

Sir, a few years ago, Lagos and Abuja airports were certified by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Au­thority (NCAA), but it has been difficult for the two airports to be recertified by the authority, why is this so?

Airports are certified for a three-year period and it elapses after then. Unfortunately, the airport operator, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), for many reasons has challenges and could not meet the requirements for certifica­tion. It is worrisome, but we are working with them. Certification of some airports has been going on for longer than necessary, but the NCAA cannot give certification when you don’t meet the requirements.

Because of that certification issue alone, we lost about 12 points in our audit, but I would rather miss those 12 points than do a certification that doesn’t meet the requirements. Then, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will come and say ‘This certificate you gave is bogus.’ That does more damage to the credibility of the entire system.

Sir, just recently, Sen. Uba Sani, the Governor of Kaduna State, lamented that facilities at the airport were an eyesore, as the industry regula­tor, what is your say?

There are audit reports on all the air­ports; I have to check its present situation. Some airports have deficiencies that have not been rectified. We will ensure that they are rectified and they meet the minimum standards before they operate. The issue of Kaduna Airport, I don’t exactly think it is due to the status of the airport. There were security issues between the airport and the town and people were really scared. We are all aware of that. Things have improved now and I am sure the State government is taking measures to ensure they block all these challenges.

I think the challenge there is more security, but the situation has improved significantly and we will certainly look at the facilities at the airport.

After this audit, in fact, we are going to check all the airports; it’s not only the international airport. For all the airports in Nigeria, we are going to audit them and see their situations. Any airport that has a de­ficiency, it will be grounded to the level of status they are and that is the way they are.

How prepared is Nigeria for the return of the ICAO Safety Audit and how soon?

I think there is a bit of misunderstand­ing on the whole ICAO audit. Nigeria got 70 percent for a full audit. What we did was a full audit and the last time we had a full audit was in 2016 after the audit, there is a period of time they will send you their report after 90 days and then, you have 45 days to do something. Another 45 days, then, another 30 days

Then, a total of 210 days from my calcu­lation before ICAO officially notifies us. During that period, you have an opportunity to rectify some of the issues and close the gaps.

What most states do after the audit is call for what is called the ICAO Coor­dination Validation Mission (ICVM). That is like a mini-audit to come and review, see all the evidence, all that you have done to close all the gaps.

The 75 percent global average that you are seeing, is not from the full audit. It is from the ICVM; so, from the full audit, without even going for the ICVM, we got 70 percent. The global average is 75 percent for ICVM; the global average from sources, which we have is even below 70 percent and we got 70 percent.

It is almost impossible to go above 70 percent with ICAO if you have not done your airport certification. We have not done our airport certification in Nigeria for the five international airports due to some challenges and difficulties.

There is no need for me to sign airport certification when I know our airports do not meet the requirements. That will be more disastrous for Nigeria and there is also what you call the Significant Safety Concern (SSC). ICAO issues that to some states; that means the oversight function of a state is fundamental fraud. We did not get an SSC.

There are things that people should be aware of. Believe me, in the next 12 to 18 months when we finish doing our proac­tive action plan, hopefully, we would have done certification of our airports and we would have closed some of the gaps. You will be surprised; our effective implementation scores would go well above the global average for ICVM.

Besides, the information we got, states that do full audits and do another full audit, they actually lose points – almost 12 points.

Nigeria gained four points between the two audits. That means we are doing well; our standards are not falling. A lot of states do audits, the next full audit they get high marks, and the next full audit everything goes down.

We have actually improved. I think the system needs to be fair to everybody. We have difficulties, we have challenges, yes, but we are going to work on them.

We have a solid ground, we have a solid foundation on which we will work with the entire industry stakeholders – agencies and the private sector. We will work together and under the guidance of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, get to where we are supposed to be, we are on our way there.

Source: The Independent

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