Mpumalanga launches airport watch programme

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Nelspruit - An airport watch programme, similar to neighbourhood watch, will be rolled out at airports nationwide, starting with the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

The airport watch programme encourages airport employees to report any suspicious activity to a central control room, a Sapa correspondent reported on Thursday.

“All employees, from cleaners to hangar guys, to pilots and air crews, can report anything that is not aviation associated or within the rules and practices of the airport, such as smuggling or theft,” said Roaan Tor, former president of the Airports and Aerodromes Association of Southern Africa.

The association is an affiliate of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA), which is rolling out the airport watch programme.

Tor said security company G4S was providing funding to introduce the concept at airports across the country.

“G4S have decided to take it up and run with it, and will print 10,000 booklets to introduce airport watch to all the other provinces.”

Tor said the initiative was similar to the one used by the Federal Aviation Authority in the US.

“It has been implemented so that airports could enhance safety and work hand-in-hand with the South African Police Service. We need to be proactive in terms of security,” he said.

G4S spokesman Sibongile Modiba said the company had always been involved in airport security.

“We provide aviation services to 29 countries on the African continent, as well as many more across Europe, Asia/Pacific, Middle East, North, Central, and South America, to the world’s leading airlines, airports and other customers,” said Modiba.

G4S would design the booklets.

“We want the community to be aware of airport security,” she said.

In Mpumalanga, CAASA has partnered with non-profit organisation Business Against Crime (BAC) and local security company J&M Security.

“The airport watch will give more eyes and ears on the ground. Every single pilot and aircraft owner will receive a booklet explaining the system,” said BAC Mpumalanga manager Yvette du Toit.

“BAC will continue to oversee the project and monitor and ensure everything runs smoothly,” she said.

J&M Security would be responsible for regulating the central control room at KMIA, fielding calls from staff and alerting the airport managers to reported incidents for further action.

Kruger airport manager Marius Nel said the system would enhance the airport’s track record.

“We have had only one incident of theft here in 11 years. Everything is security-driven and the airport watch will enhance and further our security.”

Sapa


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