The Federal Government has concluded plans to upgrade the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) by expanding its functions, which would be similar to that of America’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Consequently, AIB’s function would encompass investigation of rail, maritime and road accidents but would be domiciled in the aviation, New Telegraph has learned. Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on the sideline of a forum put together by aviation think tank, Aviation Round Table (ART), in Lagos.
He said that President Muhammed Buhari had given approval for the take-off of the exercise.
His words: “Mr. President has given approval that AIB is changed to look similar to the NTSB to handle aviation accidents, which is its primary role for now. Its new function will, very soon, include highway crashes, marine, ship accidents and rail accidents.”
The NTSB is an independent US government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation.
In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine accidents, pipeline incidents and railroad accidents. When requested, the NTSB will assist the military and foreign governments with the accident investigation.
The NTSB is also in charge of investigating cases of hazardous materials releases that occur during transportation. But the agency is bogged down by financial challenges to tackle its primary function, just as its annual budget is said to be less than N1 billion.
Aside funding, the agency is also handicapped by lack of capacity to carry out its mandate since it gained autonomy in 2006. Investigations revealed that the bureau can perform better if equipped with modern facilities and trained personnel.
Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, recently called for a special fund for accident investigation.
Olateru said such funds would enable AIB to discharge its responsibilities. He said AIB was allocated N17 million for accident investigation in 2017. Such amount, he said, is grossly inadequate to carry out accident investigation.
He said the amount, when converted to dollars, was mere $47,000 as opposed to huge sums voted for accident investigations in other countries.
Olateru said: “It should also be noted that the cost of investigating an accident or serious incident is very huge. The Transport Safety Board of Canada (TSB) spent over $50 million on investigating the MD 11 Swiss SR111 of 1998 and over $110 million was spent on the Malaysia MH 370 search alone.
“Whilst we must thank the past and present administration for establishing and continued support of the bureau, we use this opportunity to appeal to our minister to use his good office to see the possibility of creating a special fund for accident investigation.
He said: ‘’Let me give you an example, when I took over AIB on January 13, 2017, there were 37 pending accident investigations and the first question I asked was, how many accidents do we have in a year that we have 37 pending accident investigation?. “The bureau needs funding for the purpose of exploring preventive measures for accident or serious incidents and for its readiness in cases where an accident or serious incident occurs
Source: New Telegraph