By Usman Sulyman
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Monday, August 24 declared that there was no infrastructure to conduct COVID-19 tests on thousands of passengers who would use the airports once international flights resume on August 29.
International commercial flights are scheduled to resume at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on August 29.
The flight operations were halted about five months ago by the Federal Government in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 through airports.
Speaking at Monday’s press briefing of the President Task Force on COVID-19, the Director-General, NCAA, Musa Nuhu, explained that operators in the aviation sector had aligned with the pre-departure testing protocol stipulated by the PTF.
The PTF Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, had during the briefing stated that about 10,000 passengers would be using the airports daily once international flights resume, adding that they would need to undergo COVID-19 testing before coming to the airports.
Reacting to Aliyu’s comments, Nuhu said operators in the sector were working assiduously to be ready for the August 29 resumption date.
He said, “This entails working closely with the national coordinator and the Port Health Services to develop protocols for testing (of passengers) coming to Nigeria.
“The aviation sector is quite comfortable and agrees with the protocols of the pre-departure PCR test. We are quite comfortable with that.
“In addition to that, we do not have infrastructure at the airports to deal with this. The airports were never built for such. So we need to build infrastructure.”
The NCAA boss stated that even if the airports had the infrastructure, any attempt to test about 10,000 passengers at airports would create crowding and other issues.