Business News of 2014-07-06

State-of-the-art security installations ongoing at KIA

The authority of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) as from this year, begun the installation of state-of the-art surveillance systems at the airport to curb frequent occurrences of thefts at the airport

The installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems began about six weeks ago and is expected to be completed by September 2014.

The new system has a technology called video analytics superimposed on it which would make it issue an alert if someone tries to do something out of the ordinary, such as trying to divert luggage from the normal route, takes or cover a camera with something.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Captain General E. B. Komeng Retired, Director Aviation, Security of KIA noted that stealing or pilfering had become an inevitable part of the aviation industry worldwide, with some people coming to airports purposely to steal.

“Over time, such people had become experts at what they do, and authorities need state-of-the-art technology, including full body scanners to deal with the phenomenon," he added.

Captain (Rtd) Komeng noted that “Without technology, you cannot win and that is what the airport is trying to do. The old system did not have that kind of technology”.

According to him, the CCTV, for the first time, would cover all areas of the airport including the airside, landside, terminal buildings and the perimeter fence, making it possible to view all grey areas and ensure security at the airport.

Captain (RTD) Komeng also revealed that a Perimeter Intrusion Detection (PID) system would also be installed after work on the CCTV installation is done. This system would issue audible alerts when anyone intrudes into the airport perimeter or the airside and show the location of the intrusion for action to be taken.

Although stealing sometimes occurs right at the airport, others usually occur in the aircraft holds where aviation security personnel are usually not allowed except in emergencies. This is because airlines have their own private security companies as well as ground handlers who are allowed into the aircraft hold, giving some loaders and private security persons the opportunity to connive.

So far several of these have been caught and sacked from the airport and some handed over to the police for prosecution. On average, about four arrests are made in a month and 12 quarterly for stealing alone, aside other offenses.

In order to address this challenge, the airport is drafting a service level agreement that will be signed between the airport and the ground handlers and private security companies operating at the airport.

The agreement, Captain (RTD) Komeng noted would help set out standards of service expected from personnel of these companies.

Currently there are two main ground handling companies that handle aircrafts at the KIA: Aviance and AHS Menzes as well as a third company, Air Ghana Perishable Cargo, which handles only perishable cargo, he said.

Another challenge in the quest to fight stealing at the airport, the Captain said, is the inability of the police to present watertight prosecutions to secure convictions of culprits.

This, he said “ the police are not well equipped to understand the airport security processes and procedures, the breach of which amounts to criminal conduct and thus are not able to prove in court that the culprit actually committed the crimes they were arrested for”.

Adding “most of the culprits get away with only their airport Identification Cards (IDs) ceased and not being able to work at the airport again. Also, aviation security officials who give evidence openly in court, especially in drug-related cases are sometimes threatened by the suspects.

The airport has, therefore, written to the attorney general to allow such officers to give their evidence in camera but that has not been done, making officers hesitate to give evidence in such cases”.

“Because of this, we think it would be good to have a specialised aviation court to handle aviation related theft cases” he noted.

Other interventions to stem the incidence of theft at the airports include random operations with aviation security and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where at certain periods to cover sensitive areas where such incidents are likely to occur.

Captain (RTD) Komeng however emphasised that the issue required a joint effort both on the part of the airport and passengers.

“It would very much help he said if passengers whose items are stolen at the airport report such cases immediately they happen, as this would increase chances of the culprit being caught. Also, passengers should not pack valuable items such as cash, electronic gadgets and jewelry in their checked-in luggage as these show when the bags are screened and potential thieves can then identify their bags and steal them” he stated.

Captain (RTD) Komeng, therefore, urged passengers who have lost items to check with the lost and found section of the airport as it is likely such items may have been found and kept there.

“There are many lost and found items in our possession and we are looking at ways of listing them online so that people can go to the website and identify their things,” he said.