The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says that the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) popularly known as Drones in Nigeria must be regulated for safety reasons.
Sirika, in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Friday, said the focus of the present administration was to make the airspace safe and secured.
He explained that the use of drones had many advantages, adding that its security implications were huge and disastrous if not properly regulated considering the present security situation in the country.
According to him, drones can be freely used in other countries like the U.S but it is a different environment from Nigeria.
“In Nigerian environment, we cannot afford to allow people to own drones and use them as they wish, it will remain restricted so long as we remain in charge of the system.
“Those drones must be regulated in such a way that we will all be safe.
“So I want to apologise on behalf of the ministry to all Nigerians to bear with us because it is the focus of this administration to make the airspace safe and secured.
“We have been working on the regulations on RPAS and we will soon publish them.
“We presently have the interim regulation that we are using but this symposium that is coming on will expose more of it through the experiences of the stakeholders that will be shared,’’ he stated.
The minister said that drones were new entrants into the world of civil aviation with huge benefits, saying that drones could be used to remotely carry out surveillance on strategic facilities.
He also enumerated some of the negative consequences of free use of drone on social, political and economic lives of the people as huge and disastrous.
According to Sirika, imagine a chemical and biological weapon and you have system where the pilot will not be in the aircraft, the aircraft can be piloted remotely from the comfort of a bedroom.
“They can use the system of RPAS and fly around and release it on a congregation whether in church or mosque, market, school, etc with the consequence of such weapons.
“You can also imagine loading a one kilogramme of bomb in a drone and remote it somewhere and direct it to where you so wish and with the GPS, you can coordinate the exact location and drop it where you want to drop it.
“If you fly drones in the vicinity of an airport with the departing or landing aircraft, and it gets injected into the engine or it hits a critical part, it makes it unable to function.
“This can cause air crash and there can be consequences on other people at a go,’’ he said.
It was reported that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) would be holding a maiden symposium on the RPAS on July 17 and 18 in Abuja.
Sirika said the symposium was an opportunity for stakeholders to share their experiences on the use of RPAS, its benefits and the need for regulations on its usage.