WHERE’S SECURITY AT PORT MORESBY AIRPORT?

Editorial

WHERE’S SECURITY AT PORT MORESBY AIRPORT?

The National PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 3, 2010) – Yesterday’s fatal shooting at the domestic terminal at the country’s biggest airport shows a lapse in security that beggars description.

But we have come to learn that it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Criminals walked into the airport past the security checks of the static guards at the front. First lapse in security.

They walked through the first metal detector, quite obviously with fire arms, without the metal detector picking up the firearms.

Was the metal detector working? If it was, how was it that the firearms were not detected? Second lapse in security.

The victim was about to go through the inner security check to get into the departure lounge when he was shot – in front of two security guards.

The person lay bleeding on the ground for a very long time before he was moved.

Had there been medical first aid facilities at the terminal and persons trained to use them, the person might have been saved. This was security and safety lapse number three.

Following the shooting, the criminals ran out of the terminal, past security guards, past the wide open automatic glass doors at the arrival lounge. The glass doors, which can be closed by remote control, have not been working for at least a year. This was security lapse number four.

The criminals got in a car waiting just at the curb outside the arrivals door and zoomed off to safety with their loot.

Cars, such as those belong to the courtesy industry, have special stamps which allow them to be parked in this spot. All other cars are supposed to be directed to the public car park across from the terminal. This was security lapse number five.

We have since learnt that the same doors at the international terminal have not been functioning as well for the same length of time.

This, despite the fact that there was an armed hold-up of the automatic teller machine at the airport last year during which a shot was fired in the terminal. Mercifully, nobody was harmed.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was stuck in the lift at the international lounge for the better part of an hour earlier this year, which caused a flurry of activity which had restored the lift but nobody is testing it these days.

We have learnt further from airport security experts yesterday that doors at the back of both the domestic and international terminals, and those doors leading off from the terminal to the airport tarmac and the aircrafts, are not secured. This means that anyone can use these doors to access aircraft and passengers.

Jackson Airport is PNG’s main international gateway for passenger traffic. Here pass business executives, prime ministers, kings and queens.

In this age of heightened terrorist threats and of globetrotting viral and bacterial microbes, this lapse in security places this country, its citizens, visitors and its plants and animals at tremendous risk.

This is so serious a lapse in security that the management of the Civil Aviation Authority and its subsidiary, charged with looking after airports and tarmacs, the National Airports Corporation (NAC), must be asked to show cause why they should be in their respective jobs at all.

If this is the state the biggest airport in the country is in, we wonder at what the safety standards are like in all the other air and sea ports around the country.

The NAC, we gather, has unilaterally taken over the airports and all CAA assets throughout the country.

We gather that the NAC is collecting all the fees from airlines for use of all airport facilities around the country.

We wonder where all this money is going since we seem to see no evidence of it being spent on improvement of airport and tarmac facilities and safety equipment. Just how many airports, which are taking F28 flights, have fire-fighting equipment today, we wonder?

How many have working lights and proper fencing?

It is time the government turned its focus on the Civil Aviation Authority and its baby, the NAC. All too often, the public and the government wrongly blame Air Niugini for all the security lapses and the dilapidated nature of terminals, but it really is the responsibility of the CAA and, now, the NAC.

They must be made to explain yesterday’s security lapse and the rundown nature of the airports of the country, including Jackson.

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