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Work kicks off on airport security fence.

Summary: Vital barrier aims

to keep trespassers, unauthorized persons from entering facility

BEIRUT: Work to construct a vital fence around Beirut airport has kicked off, Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter said Wednesday, in the latest measures to beef up security at the facility. "We will do what we need to do to fortify the airport's security," Zeaiter said during a meeting with the Civil Aviation Administration, the National News Agency reported.

The fence aims to prevent trespassers and other individuals from posing a security threat by entering the airport illegally.

Zeaiter also said that a new system for luggage detectors has been put into force to prevent attempts to smuggle arms and bombs and foil terror attacks.

"A mechanism for the work of the airport's taxi drivers has been set in order to ensure the rights and safety of incoming and outgoing citizens," he said.

Lebanon came under severe criticism from the European Union a few months ago for failing to upgrade some of its vital safety measures at the airport.

The building of the airport fence came after Zeaiter announced last month that Lebanon had been removed from an International Civil Aviation Organization sky safety blacklist. Zeaiter had said a sea wall would also be built soon around the airport as part of measures to bolster security at the facility.

The ICAO issued a report in 2009 detailing the shortcomings of the airport and guidelines to mitigate the deficiencies. In 2012 an ICAO delegation visited again to survey Lebanon's commitment to implementing the reforms. In 2013 the delegation issued a detailed report listing Significant Safety Concerns.

Zeaiter said his ministry has since 2015 worked on remedying the SSCs.

The Lebanese government and the Public Works and Transport Ministry allocated more funds to upgrade the airport's security, and the administration of the airport has announced new security measures on the recommendation of the ICAO. The measures concern the amount of liquids, aerosols, and gels -- otherwise known as "LAGs" --which passengers are permitted to carry onto the plane.

The measures went into effect June 1, 2016.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk had said he has been demanding for the last two years that the government "seriously study the airport security case in light of the existing risks and grave deficiencies."

He said the cost of the needed equipment amounted to less than $30 million, including a vital fence around the airport, surveillance cameras, scanner machines and explosives detectors.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Jul 14, 2016
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