Uche Usim, Abuja
The Accident investigation in Nigeria will soon take a new dimension as the Federal Government is strongly pushing for the enactment of an Executive Bill that will transform the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) into the Nigerian Transportation Accident Investigation Bureau (NTAIB), to cover land, sea and air disaster investigations.
Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the revelation, on Tuesday, in Abuja, at the opening of a four-day regional workshop on ‘Improvement Of A Fundamental Safety Oversight System In The Area Of Aircraft Accident’, organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), African and Indian Ocean (AFI) Region, for the Regional Aviation Safety Group for Africa and the Indian Ocean (RASG-AFI) States.
According to Sirika, “We have an Executive Bill currently with the National Assembly that is trying to make AIB a Nigerian Transportation Accident Investigation Bureau just like it is done all over the world.
“The present day accident investigation will not be limited to only air accidents it will extend to maritime and other modes of transportation.
He said that the AIB had in the last two years been equipped and improved the processes of accident investigation through training of personnel and equipping its laboratory.
The minister disclosed that the capacity building in the bureau had yielded results which had led to the patronage from many countries in Africa to assist them in accident investigation.
According to him, AIB was in Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and other countries recently, offering services to them because, Nigeria is now a leader since the current administration assumed responsibility.
“AIB is being run by competent hands and the government is giving all the necessary supports and we will continue to leader.
“Since we came in we have improved the processes of accident investigation through trainings and procurement of quite a number of equipment for AIB and improve its capacity.
“This capacity building has yielded a lot of result because Nigeria is now offering accident investigation services to other African countries and many countries are coming to Nigeria to partner.
“Accident investigation is the most important and critical component if air safety and we are not taking it lightly. We are doing all the best that we could to make AIB the best in the world,” he said.
The minister also disclosed that the accident investigation in Nigeria had taken a new dimension lately with the executive bill pending at the National Assembly seeking to make AIB Nigerian Transportation Accident Investigation Bureau.
He explained that the present day accident investigation all over the world was not limited to only air accidents, adding that it had also extended to maritime and other modes of transportation.
Earlier, the Commissioner/CEO of AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, said that the workshop was part of ICAO’s effort to ensure strong collaboration within the African region in terms of accident investigation and enhancing safety within the region.
According to Olateru, ICAO is hosting the workshop in Nigeria because of the recognition of the achievements of AIB in the last two years in the area of accident investigation.
“And one of the lined up event is for the African member states to visit our facility and to showcase our laboratory because ICAO wants us to lead and ensure that we assist all other nations in the area of accident investigation.
“We are currently helping many nations and one of the highlights of this event is signing an MoU with the Republic of Benin to assist them in terms of accident investigation.
“For instance, we helped Sao Tome to investigate the air accident that happened in that country and we have concluded that investigation and that makes it first time in the history of AIB to conclude accident investigation within one year.
“That report has been sent to Sao Tome government, the operator of the aircraft, and the Russian government and we are waiting for the feedback within the 60 days,” he said.
Olateru disclosed that AIB had in the last 18 months, released 16 accident final reports, adding that six more reports would also be released within the next six weeks.
One of such report according to him is the one of Bristow helicopter.
He said that accident investigation should not take more than 12 months, pledging that AIB under his watch, was committed to achieve that except for very complex accidents.
According to him, the bureau currently has about 27 accidents to conclude their investigations and produce final reports.
“When I came in 2017, a lot of these were pending and we inherited about 47 accident investigations pending and it is not something we can rush into.
“Some of them because of the time, we have lost some information because we are talking about accidents that happened some nine years ago,” he said.
Regional Officer, Airworthiness, ICAO WACAF Office, Mr. Ali Ousmane, said the choice of the Nigeria as host was in recognition of the achievement of Nigeria in establishing and running an ambitious aircraft accident and incident investigation system to the extent of providing assistance and services to neighboring countries.
Ousmane said that AIB had invested in the training of aircraft investigators and acquired flight recorders facilities which would be visited by the participants.
He said that Aviation safety remained one of the key strategic objectives of ICAO and had accorded it highest priority as depicted in the Global and Regional Safety targets (GASP).