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Security issues at Lungi International Airport

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Security issues at Lungi International Airport

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Besides, it is very scary if one remembers the escalating global rate of terrorist activities. It is therefore proper for security anomalies like these to be nipped in the bud.

Let us take a look at some of the most recent occurrences excluding those that have to do with pilfering of baggage and other offences. It will interest you to know that all of these incidents take place within the perimeter of the airport.

The first one happened at the DEVORs, the key installations responsible for protecting the airport from thunder and lightning. The DEVOR is also the installation that aids the navigation of flights when landing and taking off. The Freetown or Lungi Airport as it is popularly known has a total of three DEVORS and four Guard Posts.

Interestingly, it is from one of those DEVOR installations that eight copper earth bars were carted away by thieves. The incident was brought to the notice of the Local Unit Commander at the Airport, Police Station-Superintendent Abioseh A .M Hyde (pictured) by the Acting General Manager of the Airport, Idriss Nabie Fofana.

Because the matter was not seemingly treated with the deserved seriousness, thieves again stormed one of the Guard Posts and uprooted its steel door. The thieves also took away the water tank at the post. Although it is unsafe to speculate where next these thieves would target, it is clear this thieving spree will continue undisrupted for some time if immediate action is not taken. One should therefore not be in the least surprised if the next target turns out to be the very Control Tower at the airport.

I am sure the first question that comes up is, who is in charge of the security of the airport? That is the same question I used to engage the Local Unit Commander at the airport, Superintendent Hyde. She was was quick to shift the blame to the management of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority. She explained how the issue of security lapses was detected upon her assumption of office and the countless number of times she tried to have it addressed.

I gathered that the management of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority had long ago secured the services of a foreign security agency called Westminster Aviation but there have however been some undefined roles between Westminster Aviation Security whose operations mainly cover the use of CCTV cameras and the Sierra Leone Police. My understanding is that the CCTV cameras are hardly effective beyond the threshold of the Terminal Building and never productive enough at the far end of the perimeter.

As outlined by the Local Unit Commander, Westminster Aviation is responsible for the main installations and that the OSD, which is the armed wing of the Sierra Leone police, only plays a backup role at night.

Hyde said amendments have now been made and that her personnel have assumed full responsibility. But the challenges in those deployment areas are as yawning as ever. Apart from the issue of insufficient personnel at this police unit, there is also the problem of logistics. The posts are far apart and it remains a serious challenge for an officer on night duty to gain immediate support when in need of help.

There is also the lack of water and toilet facilities in all of these posts. So the question is, are the authorities actually mindful of the potential dangers of displaying such negligence of the country’s only aviation asset of international standard?

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