PTF on COVID-19 expresses satisfaction with preparedness at airports as Sirika keeps mum on reopening date  

Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister with other members of PTF on COVID 19 briefing the press at the MMA, Lagos on Saturday


Posted by Sade Williams


The Federal Government yesterday expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness of the major airports to commence operations after over three-month shutdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.


The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu expressed satisfaction with the level of preparation by the Aviation sector to restart, saying the stakeholders have done tremendously well.


He assured passengers that the Aviation industry is safe for them to fly and they would be well protected against contracting the dreaded virus.


He said the ball is in the Court of the passengers to take responsibility by obeying all safety instructions.


Members of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 stormed Lagos Airport to assess the level of preparedness at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) otherwise known as MMA1.


Apart from Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, others in the team were the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, Minister of State for Health, Olounnibe Mamora, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of State for Education, among others.


As soon the team landed in Lagos at around 12:30 aboard Aero flight, members inspected both the departure and arrival areas of the airports to assess the social distancing measures put in place.


The boarding and waiting areas were clearly marked for passengers to observe social distancing while the toilets have automatic hand washing points.


Similarly, automatic sanitizer dispensers were provided at every point of the boarding just as there are automatic temperature screening points.


But Sirika who did not specify when the airports would reopen for commercial flights, said he is 90 to 95 per cent satisfied with what is on ground.


He said the only thing left to be done at the airport is the surface cleaning and installation of baggage spray machines which he said are ready.


“Once we start, all the physical distancing measures would be observed. The markings in Lagos are as much as we have in Abuja.


“I’m not 100 per cent satisfied but I am 90 per cent satisfied and why did I say so? I said so because our airports both Lagos and Abuja, we have marked them clearly, we have trained our staff to ensure the physical distancing, we have provided COVID-19 compliant toilets. We have provided for hand sanitizers, we guided people efficiently. We reduced the amount of people the Co-Bus will take.


“So we have done everything humanly possible to ensure that people keep physical distancing and they are wearing their mask. So I am very satisfied and happy.”


In terms of timeline, he said, “I think once we are good to go, we are good to go. You know there are two components of it. The health and safety components. This thing is not as easy as you think.. I don’t want to give a date but I am sure we are getting there.”


Also Miniser of State for Health, Mamora said compliance is very critical and government might be forced to enforce compliance.


Meanwhile, Sirika said palliatives to the aviation industry will be announced as soon as next week as the sector inches towards restart.


His word: “Government is coming with the palliative very soon in conjunction with the CBN and the Ministry of Finance, by next week we will come out with the amount and palliative will be announced within the week. Within the economic sustainability plan. It will go round the entire civil aviation but may not be necessarily cash like people expect.”


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