Two days after the federal government expressed satisfaction with the safety measures at the Kaduna International Airport, the House of Representatives has condemned shoddy arrangement in the airport and expressed doubt about the safety of the passengers.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who led 40 journalists to the airport on Tuesday said Nigerians had risen to the challenge to ensure seamless operation at the Kaduna Airport which is serving as alternative following the closure of Nmamdia Azikiwe International Airport for rehabilitation on March 8.
However, members of House of Representatives on Thursday said the Kaduna Airport had failed to meet up with safety standard in both international and domestic flight operations.
The House of Rep had endorsed the closure of Abuja Airport for six weeks repair and the use of Kaduna Airport as alternative. But the lawmakers condemned arrangements at the Kaduna Airport after a visit.
In a motion, a member of the House of Rep, Adeyinka Ajayi Ajayi drew attention to the need for the aviation authorities to review and ensure that the Kaduna Airport adhere to operational and safety requirements as promised prior to the closure of the Abuja airport.
Ajayi recounted how the aviation fuel being discharged from haulage trucks into aircraft at the Kaduna Airport was done without purifying the fuel.
“God forbid that an aircraft should drop from the skies due to our own errors. This is what we should not pray to happen. As we speak, we have aircraft flying in the air. It can happen to anybody. Safety standards are not being adhered to at the airport,” Ajayi said.
He added that ramp marking rules were abused at the airport as they were “violated by unauthorised users, who go right through the ramp marks.”
Other members of the House of Reps who shared their experience at the Kaduna Airport expressed disappointment with the level of safety measures at the airport.
Hassan Saleh pointed out the failures of the Kaduna Airport authority to manage the crowd at the airport.
Saleh said, “It is a disaster waiting to happen. Security measures at that airport have collapsed. You could see that the security personnel are overwhelmed by the crowd. They no longer conduct full security checks because of the huge crowd.”
Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Relations, Nnenna Ukeje, said the lives of passengers and aircraft were exposed to danger at the Kaduna airport.
She noted that the space provided for passengers and parking for aircraft was inadequate and could easily lead to accidents.
Ukeje said she spent about two hours after landing at the airport where she struggled to get her luggage and leave the airport. She said the Kaduna airport experiment had obviously failed.
Majority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said the international airlines refused to land in Kaduna airport because they probably knew the sordid state of the airport.
Gbajabiamila said: “If all the foreign airlines but one said they would not use Kaduna, was there something they knew that we did not know? If the airlines have chosen to lose money than fly into Kaduna, then there is a problem that we should be concerned about.”
Despite the revelations, some members of the House of Rep from Kaduna State opposed the motion, claiming that operations at the airport had been smooth since the closure of Abuja airport.
A former House Deputy Whip, Mohammed Garba-Dhatti said: “There have been sentiments expressed against this airport right from the beginning. That is what is still happening. Which of the airlines has made complaints that it has any problems at the airport?”
Also another member from Kaduna, Simon Arabo, said “There has been no report of any accident in Kaduna. It is also very unfair for anyone to come here and describe the airport as a construction site.”
However, after praising the arrangement at the Kaduna airport, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed appealed to Nigerians to be patient as more than two weeks had already passed from the six weeks duration for the repair of Abuja airport.
The Minister said, “There is no way we can replicate Abuja in Kaduna within the time frame, but if the objective is to ensure seamless operation and minimal disruption to services, absolute safety and security, I think we have done well.”