“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, was the expression the Minister for Aviation Madam Cecilia Dapaah employed to elucidate the need for international cooperation and information sharing as global aviation stakeholders identify ways of quelling unlawful interference in aviation services.
Opening a two-day Sub-Saharan Africa Aviation Security Regional Workshop organised by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) in collaboration with the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority in Accra, Madam Dapaah called on states to develop and apply appropriate, effective, protective and reactive aviation security measures to meet the threats at both national and operational levels.
“It is well known that security gaps in one state, airport or aircraft can lead to security incidents and acts of unlawful interference to civil aviation operation in another state, as civil aircrafts operate across borders and continents.”
The workshop, the first to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa and Ghana for that matter, drew participants from 24 countries that will in the next 48 hours deliberate on pertinent issues aimed at building a strong collaborative network in order to improve security in the region.
With civil aviation being a prime target for terrorists and in view of the increasing passenger numbers at various airports, the minister called for measure to achieve robust, sustainable, coordinated and cost-effective security measures to address the “sophisticated and challenging” security threats.
Dapaah outlined initiatives being put in place by her ministry and agencies under her ministry to ensure aviation practice is in compliance with ICAO Annex 17 Standards to strengthen security including the implementation of a Regulated Agent Regime through the development and implementation of a National Air Cargo and Mail Security Programme (NACMSP).
Under this initiative, cargo operators have been approved as Regulated Agents and Known Consignors to ensure establishment and standard application of common systems, procedures and measures for the purpose of safeguarding the transportation of cargo and mail by air against acts of unlawful interference.
Another measure taken to enhance the quality of security at the airport is the National Civil Aviation Security Certification Systems Programme (NCASCSP) meant to provide certification for aviation security screeners, security instructors, security auditors, and give approval to security service providers and security training organisations.
She disclosed that the new Terminal 3, which will be commissioned soon, had detailed security considerations integrated in the design and building of the facility, expressing hope of its safety and security when operational.
Additionally, Terminal 2 has also been equipped with Active Millimetre Wave Body Scanners for screening passengers and their baggage as well as a Level 3 Explosive Detection X-ray Screening System (EDS) for hold baggage screening.
Dapaah entreated all aviation security authorities to work at promoting a positive security culture through continuous training and awareness programmes.
By Godfred Tawiah Gogo