Transport Sector Accident Investigation Challenged By Inadequate Law- AIB

Yemisi Izuora

The Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, has said that quick passage of a Bill now with the National Assembly and assent by President Muhammadu Buhari would go a long way in helping the agency expand its scope of operations.

The agency is anticipating moving into road accidents, marine accidents and other crashes like the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, made the disclosure in Lagos at the weekend.

Explaining the stages the Bill had undergone, Olateru stated that it had passed the second reading at the House of Representatives while awaiting public hearing.

He explained that it had reached same position of second reading and public hearing, stressing that after that it would be transmitted to the President for assent.

According to him, You will agree with me that it will start once the Bill is approved by the National Assembly and the President. Currently, we are set out to investigate air accident and there is a proposed Bill in the National Assembly.

“At the House of Representatives, it has passed the second reading; we are waiting for public hearing on the new AIB Bill. At the Senate, we are waiting for second reading and public hearing. Thereafter, it will be transmitted to the President for assent.

For us, when you look at what we’ve done in air transport, we have been able to mitigate so many risks; we have managed to learn from our lessons in serious incidents. You look at aviation, it is a highly regulated industry, very expensive, highly technical, the fastest and the safest means of transportation and it is because of all these checks and balances that have made it so.”

He further explained that there was a difference between investigating for liability, criminality and safety, stressing that AIB had been investigating for safety, not for liability; same way they want to take to other modes of transportation.

According to him, “it is not about who is at fault, it is about how can we prevent future occurrence. This is our core mandate and this is what we want to focus on. That is where we are and it’s going to take effect as soon as we have the green-light from the President.”

He stated that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) ap proved construction of AIB headquarters and AIB training school in Abuja, adding that these projects had already started. The agency has two laboratories – flight safety and material science.

He reiterated that the material science laboratory was still work in progress because they want to transform the material science laboratory to an avenue where it can generate money.

He said: “We cannot charge for what we do. We don’t charge for accident investigation; we don’t invoice anybody. We can look for little areas where we can use our resources to make money. That is the way we are going so that we can be able to address the issue of funding.”

Olateru stated that investigation of accidents could be frustrating because of lack of understanding by some other government agencies.

“They don’t understand why we are pushing for this cooperation. I will give you an example, God forbid an aeroplane drops into the sea, AIB doesn’t have the capacity for sea divers to retrieve any wreckage or black boxes, but Nigerian Navy does. This is the essence of these MoUs.

“Recently, we signed an MoU with the Nigerian Air Force and one of the benefits of that is that aircraft could drop off anywhere; bad terrain, difficult terrain that we cannot access.

“Air Force can help us with the logistics. We too can be of help to the Nigeria Air Force because we have a world-class safety lab in Abuja, rather than Air Force sending down their black boxes to overseas for download, they can use our laboratory in Abuja to do the download and save our country some cost. At the end of the day, it is to the benefit of the entire nation”.

“Since 2017, I have been pushing the Nigerian Navy to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with AIB. It is not the day that we have an accident that we will start looking for whom to call.

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