Executive Order boosts service delivery at airports - THE NATION
The implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business has boosted service delivery at airports. The Order, which okays passengers screening through a single window by security personnel, has saved turnaround time for airlines and passengers, reports KELVIN OSA OKUNBOR.
Passenger facilitation at airports has assumed new dimensions, thanks to the implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business signed last May 18 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
In the last 10 months, passenger screening, check-in procedures and other processes have taken a new shape – no more lost hours for travellers.
The Order has not only improved the architecture of security, but also prescribed the terms of engagement of uniformed personnel attached to critical units.
It requires that staff members on duty should be properly identified by their uniforms and identity cards, while off-duty personnel are expected to stay away from the airport except with the approval of the agency head.
According to Osinbajo, aviation security personnel of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should address touting at airports.
”All non-official staff shall be removed from the secured areas of airports. No official of FAAN, Immigration, security agency or Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) or any other agency is to meet any non-designated dignitary at any secure areas of the airport,” The Vice President warned.
He directed that the approved list of dignitaries to be received by protocol officers should be made available to AVSEC and other relevant agencies ahead of their arrival.
”Any official caught soliciting or receiving bribes from passengers or other airport users shall be subject to immediate removal from post and will face disciplinary as well as criminal proceedings in line with extant laws and regulations,’’ the Order said.
Ten months on, passenger processing at airports and other screening procedures have been transformed.
Investigations reveal that it takes less time for passengers and airlines to process check in procedures at the airports for the reworking of security architecture at the departure and arrival wings of the terminal building.
Besides saving airlines and passengers time, there is a significant reduction in the procedure and processing of flights due to the elimination of multiple tables where passengers displayed either their luggage or travel documents.
The controversial “Customs Table“ used by airlines have been removed at the Lagos International Airport to improve passengers’ profiling and check-in processes in line with globally accepted operational standards. The development, described as a win-win situation for passengers, airlines and security agencies, is a departure from the past.
Before the implementation of the Executive Order, a long table was used by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Quarantine Service, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other agencies’ officials to allegedly extort money from passengers.
This table before the implementation of Executive Order was responsible for the unnecessary delays in passengers’check-in, which sometimes ran into several hours.
In an interview, FAAN Managing Director, Saleh Dunoma said there was a paradigm shift at the airports since the order was signed.
Dunoma confirmed that check in procedures and passenger processing had improved
He said: “Desks that have been there for manual search are no longer there. The checks are being done at appropriate locations and this has created a tidy departure hall.
“This has improved the ambience of the departure hall.’’
An aviation security expert, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) commended the government for the new regulations, noting, however, that there was still room for improvement.
Ojikutu, who is the and Managing Director of Centurion Securities Limited, said the removal of check-in tables was in line with the agitation by industry experts, who have, for years, called on the government to redesign the security procedure for passengers check-in.
Also, Dana Air Group Managing Director, Mr. Jacky Hathirami, praised aviation agencies for the commitment they had so far exhibited in implementing the directive.
He said: “Apart from the fact that aviation industry is critical to the economy, I believe the executive order has removed unnecessary bureaucracies at the airports, provide solutions to a lot of anomalies in the system.’’
On the impact of the Ease of Doing Business at airports, Akwaaba African Travel Market organiser, Mr Ikechi Uko, commended FAAN for removing the long tables.
Uko admitted that passenger facilitation at airports was not only faster, but now devoid of the hassles of multiple screening and checks.
He said: “It is easier now to go through the airport, though visa on arrival is still not easy as the processes of getting approval for visa on arrival is still difficult.”
He said there was room for improvement in some areas at the airport like the toilets which he observed are getting cleaner.
FAAN’s Director of Operations, Captain Rabiu Yadudu told The Nation that the Ease of Doing Business has brought about a lot of efficiency in airport operations and synergy among security agencies.
He added that the authority is now a subscriber to the Airport Service Quality Programme (ASP) put together by the global regulator, Airport Council International (ACI).
The programme, he said, uses data gathering to help the agency measure its passengers’ reactions to improve service delivery.
He said the Executive Order has broadened the horizon for the airport authority in entrenching safety and seamless facilitation.
Yadudu said: “It provided a template for us to know how to react to customers and stakeholders and give us better understanding to serve better.”
The new arrangement, he said, had provided passengers satisfaction at airports.
“This programme is all about gathering data from the incoming and outgoing passengers on all aspects of our operations to help us improve our services through analysis of this data. The ASP is all about efficiency and how we response to passengers stimuli,” he added.