In this interview, the Director General (D-G) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt. Muhtar Usman, speaks on the alleged supply of kerosene to the aviation sector by petroleum marketers and other industry policies. Yemisi Izuora spoke with him.
What is your reaction to the allegation that oil marketers sell kerosene as aviation fuel?
First of all I will have to say that jet A-1 is the highest grade of kerosene and it is also kerosene even though it is not for domestic use.
Having said that, aviation fuel quality control goes from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to the oil marketers and also on our own side we do ramp inspection and do random checks on fuel qualities that are being supplied .In addition, the engineers that release aircraft also do their own checks and of course the pilots during re-fueling do their own checks to ensure that the grade that we get is what is required for safe operations of our aircraft in Nigeria. So, NCAA as the regulatory body is doing everything possible to ensure that whatever qualities of fuel that aircraft use in Nigeria are up to standard.
How far have you gone with the Passengers Bill of Right. What is NCAA doing to ensure that the average Nigerian is aware of his or her rights?
It is an area that NCAA is taking very seriously .First, we have been training our own people and also the operators on how to handle cases whereby such cases don’t have to come to us. In the area of enlightenment, we have trained and along with you the media because you have a big role to play in enlightening the general public on their rights.
We have posted strategically at the airports some of those rights .The only thing we keep appealing is that when they come to exercise those rights, they should come through decent means and not manhandling any of the NCAA staff, airport authority staff, the airline staff and so on .They should demand for their rights and we are going to stand for their rights and wherever we want to use the big stick, we will use it.
What has NCAA done to ensure that sanction was given to the airline that breached safety at the ramp?
When we talk about safety, we don’t go about talking of criminal and civil liabilities. The most important thing is that when something happens, we try to make sure that it does not happen again and that is why we do that through regulations, surveillance, inspections to ensure that mishaps don’t happen.
But of course we are all humans and accidents do happen unfortunately. If we investigate them and we make sure that we learn lessons from them to prevent them from happening again.
And such incidents and accidents do happen not only in Nigeria but in fact they are worldwide but we try to keep it to the barest minimum.
How is airlines response toward your debt recovery exercise?
I am happy to say that we have a lot of responses from all the debtor airlines. They are willing to come forward and reconcile their accounts and also make commitments in terms of either in rescheduling and give us a definite payment plans .So, I am happy to say we are making head way in that direction .
At what point are you in the area of Audit of the airlines?
Well, I think as I mentioned in the release we sent out to the media .Audit is a continuous process .We did not do it because there was a crash .It is a continuous process. We have been doing it and in the process, as I said safety is about seeing a trend and arresting that crime that could lead to something that is not pleasant.
That is why we carry out inspections, audits, monitoring, surveillance and so on .So ,it is an ongoing process and it is part of the responsibilities of the NCAA and we continue to do it to discharge our mandate.
What do you intend to achieve with this stakeholder workshop on the proposed amendment to Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Regulations?
First of all I will like to say that aviation is very dynamic. There have been a lot of changes and in order to keep up with those changes especially as regards the documentation that we are supposed to adopt and use here in Nigeria from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
There have been a lot of changes and we are now bringing our regulations to be in line with those changes that have taken place .It is a continuous exercise and this one is a major one but we do it continuously anytime there are changes we update.
This is the first major amendment since promulgation of the regulations. Of course when you are using any document, you test it and after sometime, where you see the need to amend, you amend and it is very normal since the regulation is meant for the stakeholders that are here as you can see. We need to bring them in to make their own inputs because the regulation is not for us but for the stakeholders and for safe and efficient air traffic flow in Nigeria.