Nepal to develop disaster response plan for airports

Kathmandu, Jan 31 (IANS) Nepal has geared up to develop a strong disaster response plan for major airports following the devastating earthquake in the country on April 2015.

Considering possible disasters in future, more than 30 officials from government agencies and airports, military and humanitarian partners and international experts were discussing the action plan at a four-day workshop which kicked off here on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The event plans to assess and strengthen post-disaster preparedness and arrangements at two of Nepal’s most strategic airports, the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) here and the one at Nepalgunj in the western part of the country.

Addressing the inaugural session, Tourism Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari said the disaster response capacity of TIA was not sufficient during the earthquake.

“We have to focus on further developing our airports’ capacities,” he said.

Being a landlocked country, Nepal relies heavily on air routes to transport aid supplies during emergency.

Right after the disaster that killed nearly 9,000 people, the country’s only international airport was flooded with humanitarian aid supplies and rescue and relief teams coming from all around the world.

Large aircraft were unable to land at the airport as the runway was damaged from the influx of flights delivering aid.

Valerie Julliand, the UN Development Fund Resident Coordinator for Nepal, said: “We just can’t wait for another disaster to strike to have a strong and effective contingency plans to manage the flow of emergency relief goods to the people in need. If Nepal really works on a good action plan, Nepal can transform its vulnerability of being landlocked into strength.”

During the workshop, participants and trainers will evaluate the current level of preparedness at the two airports, go through trainings and provide concrete recommendations.

The workshop will also identify priorities for investment in national infrastructure that could further improve Nepal’s resilience of emergency supply chains during a disaster.

–IANS

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