The Federal Government has announced that it has almost completed equipping the airports ahead of the arrival of over 50 heads of State and other guests that would grace the nation’s 50th independence anniversary billed for October 1, 2010.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Aviation, Captain Shehu Usman Iyal, gave the hint in an interview with newsmen at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos Monday.

Iyal said that all the safety facilities and equipment needed for safe and seamless travel have been provided at the airports for the anniversary, adding that all the airports where the expected dignitaries would park their aircraft are currently undergoing upgrading which must be completed before the anniversary date.

Iyal who is also the Chairman, Aviation Committee on the Anniversary also disclosed that Lagos State government would collaborate with the Federal Government to receive world leaders arriving for the ceremony through the Lagos airport. He said majority of the guests would arrive in the country from both Lagos and Abuja airports but many other airports in country would be put to use during the period.

According to him, the Committee was in Lagos to assess the state of navigational aids, such as the Instrument Landing System (ILS), Very High Frequency Omni-directional Radio range (VOR) and other facilities to see the state of their readiness.

He said the Committee had also ensured that facilities at alternate airports in Ilorin, Kano, Kaduna and Minna are in place for the visit.

Capt. Iyal said because the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos might not be able to accommodate the aircraft that would fly in the visiting world leaders, the alternate airports would serve as parking ground for their aircraft.

“At the last count, over 50 Heads of State and Government are expecting to arrive in Abuja for the ceremony. For this, this Committee had been going round airports in the country to ensure that everything is in place for their visit.

“NAMA has assured us about its preparedness for the visiting world leaders to make the airspace very safe. We have also inspected all the navigational facilities, such as ILS, VOR, NDB, at the airport that would receive the world leaders.

“Because the international airports are the eyes to the country, we want to use them to project our image, and we want the leaders coming into the country for the ceremony to have a seamless trip here,” Capt Iyal said.

He also said that all the aviation and security agencies at airports had been co-opted into the Committee to provide seamless facilitation for leaders coming in on passenger scheduled flights.

Iyal explained that the problems which prompted the U.S. Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, and the Secretary of Homeland Secretary, Mrs. Janet Napolitano to park their aircraft at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra last year and early this year respectively when they visited Nigeria was being addressed, noting that the problems ranged from inadequate security at Abuja airport to improperly lit apron.

On the traffic problem between Abuja airport and FCT, he said the committee was already collaborating with the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, to ensure free flow of traffic during and after the anniversary celebration.

Credit: Thisdayonline.com

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