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Aviation agencies and industry stakeholders recently took part in the just concluded three-day public hearing at the National Assembly on the amendment of six aviation executive bills.
Issues ranging from right to bear arms, name change, reduction of passenger service charge, were deliberated on. While the AIB wants a review of the Provisions of Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Authourity (CAA) to establish the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NISB), the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria wants a name change and the right for its security unit to bear arms.
In his presentation at the hearing, AIB commissioner, Akinola Olateru, said that to ensure transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, there was the need to create a unified body which is completely independent (in its organisation, operation and decision making processes) from the transport operators, policy makers, regulators and other parties whose interests may conflict with the tasks which organisation is entrusted with.
He said the proposed NSIB will be an Independent Federal Government Agency, like its counterparts worldwide. It will be responsible for determining the probable cause(s) of transportation accidents and serious incidents, publishing findings and making the necessary recommendations to operators, regulators and general public to promote transportation safety, as appropriate.
The Accident Investigation Bureau was established pursuant to Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 to investigate any civil aircraft accident or incident arising out of or in the course of air navigation in or over Nigeria or occurring to Nigerian aircraft elsewhere.
It is an agency supervised by the Federal Ministry of Aviation and is established with the fundamental objective to improve aviation safety by determining the circumstances and causes of air accidents and serious incidents, and providing safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence of similar accidents.
Olateru said the purpose of its investigation was not to apportion blame or liability, rather, its reports are based on investigations carried out by Accident Investigation Bureau, in accordance with Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2006 and Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations, 2019.
He said: “It is widely accepted that multimodality is the future of Transport Accident Investigation, and the transition has always been made from the extant Air Accident Investigation Agency.
In Nigeria, it is the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB-N). It has therefore become expedient that the Provision of Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act (CAA) be reviewed to establish the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NISB) in a separate Act to bring up on speed with contemporary global best practice in the industry, to create a multi modal Bureau for investigation of air, railway and maritime accidents.
“To ensure transparency, efficiency and effectiveness in this pursuit, there is a need to create a unified body which is completely independent (in its organisation, operation and decision making processes) from the transport operators, policy makers, regulators and other parties whose interests may conflict with the tasks which organisation is entrusted with.’’
He said investigation that is made is to primarily find out: What happened, how it happened, why it happened, what can be done to prevent a reoccurrence and who is at fault or to blame.
“Accident Investigation is done for many reasons. The primary purpose of investigation is to discover the cause of the accident. Once identified, the cause can be addressed, eliminated or controlled, in a bid to forestall a reoccurrence. Improvement in quality of care follows a comprehensive accident investigation that reveals the root cause and yields recommendation for improvements.
“During the investigation process, all facts are collected, analysed and written down in a public report. The most important part of the report is the safety recommendations. If the measures suggested in the safety recommendations are carried out, similar accidents can be avoided in the future, or at least their consequences can be minimized accordingly.
“Consequently, the proposed Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) will be an Independent Federal Government Agency, like its counterparts worldwide. It will be responsible for determining the probable cause(s) of transportation accidents and serious incidents, publishing findings and making the necessary recommendations to operators, regulators and general public to promote transportation safety, as appropriate.
“Presently, NIMASA and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) are both responsible for regulating and investigating their occurrences (accident/incident). Where Agencies act as both regulator and investigator, public confidence will be eroded and the issue of transparency questioned. Hence, the need for a separate investigative body to be responsible for investigation of occurrences, whilst the existing organisation continue with regulatory functions.
“In other countries with multiple modes of transportation it is generally accepted that there is very little justification for individual investigation agencies when the myriad of benefits of multimodality are considered. The United Kingdom is the only exception but many countries with multiple modes of transportation, ranging from basic to state of the art, have adopted this structure with others seriously considering the transition.
“From the above, it is clear that the Act will provide for an effective legal and institutional framework for the regulation and administration of safety of transportation occurrences in Nigeria, as appropriate; The Bill will cause prompt and quick investigation of accidents in the proposed transport sectors; Improve efficiency of all the service providers; Creating a much safer environment; Reduction in number of deaths, injuries and material losses; Effective management system; Facilitation of collaboration and cooperation; Comprehensive planning; Human capacity development; Cost reduction and management; Improvement on Infrastructure, facilities and equipment; Creation of job opportunities; and Enhancement of mutual beneficial relationship between the various Agencies,” he said.
On the part of FAAN, the authority proposed a name change to the Federal Airports Administration of Nigeria (FAAN) saying that it would ensure that the industry has just one regulator. It is also seeking to amend or enact Bills that should aid it in security as well as legal representations going forward.
Part I (1) of the bill states that: There is established a body to be known as the Federal Airports Administration of Nigeria (in this Act referred to as ‘the Administration’). The Administration shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and common seal; may sue or be sued in its corporate name; and shall acquire, hold or dispose of property (whether movable or immovable).
The Administration shall manage the airports listed in the First Schedule to this Act and any other airport that may be assigned to it by the Minister, from time to time.
The Managing director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, said there has been no significant amendment to the FAAN Act since 1999 and the repealing and enacting of Acts is the perfect opportunity to make changes to ensure the vibrant airport manager and remove the misconception that FAAN is a regulator.
“We are proposing a Bill that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria ( FAAN) in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation ( ICAO) regulations which states that there is only one regulator in the industry, we propose a change of name to the federal Airports Administration of Nigeria ( FAAN). We are seeking to retain the laws to allow the FAAN Aviation security carry arms as well as another Bill seeking legal officers of FAAN to represent the agency during a time of litigation and reduce such,” Yadudu said.
Aviation security expert, Group Captain Ojikutu who spoke on the issue of security queried the need to arm the aviation security as is being proposed in the Bill stating they the number of armed security men at the airports were much and a recipe for disaster.
“The number of government security agencies at the airport is much. ICAO Annex 17 provides that we should have a National Aviation Security Committee that would have all the security agencies in the committee. There are six or seven armed security agencies at the airport and here we are asking Aviation security to bear arms. Customs bear arms, the police bear arms, the Department of State Security ( DSS) and Nigeria immigration bear arms. If we want to have 20 agencies, they must consider one control at the airport.”
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) also made a case for domestic airlines. Through its lawyer, Chinasa Unaegbunam, the body asked the Senate to repeal Clause 23 of the Civil Aviation Act asking for the reduction of the 5 per cent TSC/CSC.
Unaegbunam said operators need a lifeline and also asked that the governing board of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) should include a member of the AON stating that this would give the airlines a voice. But Sirika who initiated a point of order, said that the monies owed were not charges as stated by the lawyer but a charge collected on the NCAA’s behalf from the airlines to be remitted which was not done.
According to him, the AON currently owes $6, 993, 284 million and N19, 365, 374,336 billion on the five per cent currently shared by the regulator, the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency ( NAMA), Nigeria Meteorological Agency ( NIMET), Nigeria College of Aviation Technology ( NCAT) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Currently, there are plans to review the sharing formula from the current rate where the NCAA gets 56 per cent, NAMA 22 per cent, NiMET 9 per cent, NCAT-7% and AIB 6%.