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Parliament ratifies airport security agreement

June 19, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

In order to reduce crime, malicious harm and other threats to passengers, staff and aircraft at the country’s sole international airport, Parliament yesterday ratified an Airport Security Agreement, dated 17 February 2012, between the Sierra Leone Airports Authority and Westminster Aviation Security Services Limited (WASS) for the provision of security services to the airport.

In his presentation, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, said large number of people pass through the airport everyday which makes it a potential target for terrorism and other forms of crimes.

Koroma said the high concentration of people on large airlines, the potential high death rate if there are attacks on aircraft and the possible use of a hijacked airplane as a lethal weapon may provide alluring target for terrorism, whether or not the perpetrators succeed.

He explained that pursuant to the SLAA Act of 1988, it is responsible for the administration of the Freetown international Airport (FNA) to provide security services at the airport, but because of the lack of capacity in financial and human resources, the SLAA decided to outsource security services to a third-party that will be able to provide adequate and first-rate airport security operation which meets international standards, and that upon a competitive tender, WASS emerged as the successful bidder and was awarded the contract.

He said the agreement will “protect the airport and country from any threatening events, to reassure the travelling public that they are safe and to protect the country and their people. On the exclusivity of the agreement, please note that security responsibility cannot be shared in the face of terrorism and smuggling, only one provider should provide it and correspondingly be held responsible for any lapses.”

Minister Koroma told lawmakers that WASS had upgraded the existing security apparatus at the airport and introduced new detection and surveillance technology both within the passenger and cargo terminal, as well as provided extensive national training of security personnel in accordance with international standards.

He revealed that at the commencement of the agreement, workers employed by SLAA for the provision of security services at the airport will be laid-off and re-employed by WASS, while SLAA will cooperate with WASS in all related matters and ensure that goods imported by WASS are free of any import duty or sale tax.

He said such arrangement was necessary to avoid an increase in security fees to cover the cost.

Hon. Umar Paran Tarawally said parliament was desirous of providing security and at the same time increasing revenue generation in the country, acknowledging that both passengers and persons importing goods into the country have had to contend with numerous problems.

“The issue of national security has been boosted as we will now have a reputable international security that is internationally boosted,” he said.

Hon. Patricia Brown described the agreement as “good” and urged that there should be no monopoly at the quay, as she called for a reconsideration of security fees levied although the country aspires to international standards.