MINISTER of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo, has entered into discussion with security agencies, including the National Security Adviser and the Ministry of Interior, on how to rid airports of activities downgrading the image of the country.

While condemning how the activities of the uniform personnel who have formed the habit of soliciting money from passengers at the airports often paint a bad picture of the country as captured on social media, Keyamo said he is determined to reduce direct interactions between passengers and uniformed personnel to prevent misconduct and enhance the country’s image.

Besides tackling the heavy presence of the uniform personnel, the minister has also concluded plans to declare war on touts and other undesirable elements who are in the habit of extorting travellers across the airports particularly, the international airports.

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The minister, in his explanation on the ongoing effort, likened the move to bring sanity back to the airports through curbing the activities of touts and extortions by uniform personnel to the procedures used by the United States’ Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

He used the opportunity to call for increased security measures to tackle armed and unruly touts outside airport premises, seeking assistance from external security agencies since the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) personnel are unarmed.

Keyamo said: “For the touts outside, we are asking for backup, because FAAN don’t carry arms. Some of these touts are armed; they are wayward people. So we are trying to call for help from security agencies, because normal FAAN are not armed to see how they can cooperate with us to flush them out of the airport. We need external help on that.”

Intimating the public on the aerotropolis project aimed at transforming the airports experience, Keyamo revealed that the government is advertising for international design consultants to develop a new master plan for the five international airports.

Stating that the budget has been allocated for the development of the aerotropolis, with the National Assembly and the President agreeing to back the plan, Keyamo said: “The money is in the budget; we put it there. The National Assembly and the president agreed with us that we need to develop a new master plan for all the airports. We are starting from the five international airports.”

He, however, emphasised the government’s commitment, through the leadership of Vice President Kashim Shettima and the Ease of Doing Business Council, to address these challenges and implement a comprehensive approach to improve airport operations and development.

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