The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, has said acts of terrorism create threats and more efforts are needed to provide improved security at the various airports in the country.
Speaking at the Air Cargo Security and Safety Breakfast Meeting organised by Aero Consult Limited at the NCAA annex, Lagos, Demuren who was represented by the Director of Aero-medical Services, NCAA Dr. Theressa Bassey, pointed out that the meeting would address issues on how to prevent terrorists from putting explosives in cargoes carried by the aircraft.
He however said the government was already giving the issue all the necessary attention it deserved, to further boost safety within the airport environs.
He said, "Air Cargo has become one of the most vulnerable aspects of aviation as it provides fewer risks to terrorists who plant whatever they want causing them little or no harm. Aviation security has provided counter measures and has made it difficult for them to access passenger flights unlike the cargo flights that are being viewed as vulnerable."
Also, the President, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma, decried inadequate security networks at the airports, most especially the restricted areas.
He explained that the present security personnel at the airports was inadequate to constantly monitor restricted areas like the airsides, adding that most touts break walls to gain access to the airports. He challenged the government to increase security at the airports in order to safeguard goods and cargoes at the airports.
Demuren also stressed that since the volume of cargo being carried has increased hugely on passengers' aircraft, that there was need by the appropriate authorities at the airports to put counter measures in place at the airports in making it more difficult for terrorists to access passengers and also prevent their tactics by targeting the cargo.
The Chairman of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dele Ore, also said that to prevent terrorists from putting explosives on the aircraft, there was need to use the cargo screening technologies aimed at detecting explosives.
He said, "The key technologies under consideration for screening air cargo for threat objects include x-ray screening, x-ray based explosive detection systems, chemical trace detection systems, and technologies based on neutron beams".
"Chemical trace detection systems, referred to commonly as explosive trace detection (ETD) devices, are being widely used as secondary screening tools for passenger carry-on and checked baggage. Items identified for closer scrutiny by initial screening methods or selected at random may undergo further examination using these systems", he added.
He said that in addition to cargo screening technology, hardened cargo container technology is being considered as a means to mitigate the threat of an explosion or fire caused by a bomb or incendiary device that makes its way onto an aircraft undetected
"Air cargo facilities present unique challenges for physical security. The large physical size of these facilities and relatively continuous high-volume cargo operations introduce numerous individuals, vehicles, and shipments into secured access areas around aircraft.
"Inspections and oversight of air cargo facilities to ensure compliance with aviation security regulations and procedures established in the approved security programs of air carriers and freight forwarders," he added.