The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the Federal government had re-positioned the nation’s Accident Investigation Bureau to offer accident investigation services to other African countries.
Sirika disclosed this at the opening of a Four-Day Workshop organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, African and Indian Ocean Region on Tuesday in Abuja.
The workshop has the theme: “ICAO-AFI Regional Workshop On Improvement Of A Fundamental Safety Oversight System In The Area Of Aircraft Accident And Incident investigation Within RASG-AFI States”.
He said that AIB, in the last two years, had been equipped to improve on the processes of accident investigation through training of personnel and equipping its laboratory.
The minister also disclosed that the capacity building in the bureau had attracted patronage from many countries in Africa in accident investigation.
According to him, AIB is in Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and other countries, offering services to those countries, adding that Nigeria becomes the leader of the bureau since the current administration in the country assumed responsibility.
Sirika said: “Since we came in, we have improved the processes of accident investigation through training and procurement of quite a number of equipment.
“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 for partnership.”
Sirika also disclosed that the accident investigation in Nigeria had taken a new dimension lately with the executive bill, before the National Assembly, seeking to make AIB Nigerian Transportation Accident Investigation, a Bureau.
He said that the present day accident investigation all over the world was not limited to only air accidents but maritime and other modes of transportation.
Earlier, Akin Olateru, Commissioner/CEO of AIB, said that the workshop was part of ICAO effort to ensure strong collaboration within the African region in terms of accident investigation.
According to him, ICAO is hosting the workshop in Nigeria because of the recognition of the achievements of AIB in the last two years in accident investigation.
Olateru disclosed that AIB had released 16 accident final reports in 18 months and promised that six more reports, including one of Bristow helicopters, would be released six weeks from now.
Olateru, who noted that accident investigation should not take more than 12 months of the occurrence of the accident, pledged g that AIB under his watch was committed to achieving that. He said the exception would, however, be in case of very complex accidents.
According to him, the bureau currently has about 27 accidents to conclude its investigations and produce final reports.
He said: “When I came in 2017, a lot of these reports 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.”
Ali Ousmane, Regional Officer, Airworthiness, ICAO WACAF Office, said Nigeria hosted the event in recognition of the achievement of Nigeria in establishing and running an ambitious aircraft accident and incident investigation system.
Ousmane said that AIB had invested in the training of aircraft investigators and acquired flight recorders facilities.
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.
According to him, safety data indicates that Africa has the highest rate of accident occurrence in the world with the Effective Implementation of accident investigation below the world average.