Although security has been beefed up in Saidpur Airport recently, passengers and locals claimed that it was only noticeable at the time of landing and departure of aircrafts but remained lax in other times.
Like the other airports in the country, security arrangement in Saidpur Airport has come under scrutiny following a recent unsuccessful hijacking bid of a Bangladesh Biman aircraft.
Bangladesh Biman aircraft 'Maiurpankhi' had an emergency landing at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram on February 23 when a youth reportedly carrying a toy gun created a hostage situation. He was later neutralized and killed in a swift commando action. But question remained how the young man boarded the plane with a gun dodging all the security scanners?
“The authorities should be more serious regarding airport security which still seems not up to the mark,” said industrialist Siddikul Alam, who frequently travels to Saidpur.
Saidpur is one of the six domestic airports and a busy one with nine commercial flights operating to and from there every day.
Nilphamari's Mizanur Rahman, another regular passenger of Dhaka-Saidpur-Dhaka route, said that it was not long ago the airport experienced security situation.
“Panic still haunts me as I recall the incident of August 27 last year when four youths in the guise of air travellers tried to board an aircraft with sharp knives. They were detected by passengers before being detained by law enforcers,” said Rahman.
Airport Manager Shahin Ahmed acknowledged that incident but said, “Round the clock security arrangements in Saidpur Airport has been intensified with additional police force and Ansar while civil aviation's security personnel have been deployed to keep watchful eyes by turn.”
He also said that only passengers carrying boarding passes are allowed to enter the airport terminal through series of checking and people who come to receive or say goodbye to near and dear ones are made to stop at least 100 metres away from the entrance.
During a visit on March 3, this correspondent saw people working at the fast food shops inside the airport terminal and a few visitors were entering through the open gate taking advantages of lax security.
Construction work was going on in full swing as part of the government's plan to make it a regional international airport.
But a good number of workers engaged by the contractor concerned were seen entering inside through the north gate without checking, raising concern about possible trespassing.
Asked about the matter, Shahin Ahmed refuted the allegation and said that each worker is thoroughly checked before entering and an officer is posted there for monitoring.
The airport's boundary is also not foolproof and it lacks constant vigilance.
During the visit, this correspondent noticed metallic coil of barbed wire fencing on the wall was cut and removed at some places while concrete wall was dug to make holes.
Unscrupulous people use those holes to climb and cross through the fencing gap inside the airport and this situation may pose serious threat anytime, said locals.
The airport manager, however, said they are vigilant to address problems whenever detected.
Contacted, Mohibul Haque, secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, said they have sent written instructions to all airport authorities to ensure foolproof security for the passengers and all concerned.