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Aviation Ministry to approve three years work plan for NSIB multi-modal mandate

The Director-General of the newly created Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Akin Olateru said the agency is currently working on a three to five years plan. He said that the plan was awaiting approval from the Ministry of Aviation.
The three to five-year plan after approval would put the agency on a great pedestal of the multi-modal task it is currently engaged in with signing into law the NSIB Act by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The NSIB is empowered to now investigate serious incidents and accidents in the aviation industry, maritime, rail, and road following the repeal of the AIB Act.

Olateru while fielding questions from journalists recently during the release of seven accident/incident reports said the three to five-year plan would focus on human development, which includes infrastructural needs.

His words, “We are currently doing a gap analysis to see the deficiency required. In terms of human capital, we need to recruit maritime experts; we need to recruit rail experts. I think 80 percent of our investigators right now have been trained on multimodal air accidents, rail accidents, and maritime accidents at Cranfield University.

“This, we have been preparing for the last few years and we made sure we put our investigators in that training at Cranfield University. It was a six weeks course. We definitely need some level of expertise. If you remember a few weeks ago, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Navy; that’s part of the background work we are doing because we need the Nigerian Navy in terms of support, in terms of logistics, and in terms of training as well as some of our investigators. We are building on that and very soon, we will bring all that to the open”.

The NSIB boss explained that fusing air, rail, road, and maritime accident investigation was a game changer and a decision that was reached after looking at the enormous saving it would bring to the country.

Going down memory lane, Olateru said, “One thing I love about the job I do is that I don’t need to reinvent any wheel. If you look at some countries, they are already doing what we just started. When you look at the journey so far, our presentation was made to the Federal Executive Council (FEC). It was debated and it was approved by FEC to put all accident investigations under one body. Firstly, you are saving costs. This is about preventing needless debts. Secondly, expertise stays together and makes workings much more efficient.”

 “That was the approval of the FEC at that time. This was then passed on to the National Assembly, this was debated at a public hearing. We went through a rigorous process of a second hearing, and a third hearing before it was sent to the President for approval. Of course, there was a bit of tweaking that was done at the National Assembly. At the end of the day, we got what we wanted and I really want to appreciate them for that. In the wisdom of the President, this was approved and signed into law. This is about ensuring that our modes are safe. Look at the result we have been able to achieve in the air transportation sector.”

 “The reason we have been able to achieve that is that we have been able to separate the investigator from the regulator and the service provider. This is the way it is in most countries of the world today. They are on three legs. You separate the regulator from the service provider and the investigator. In the air mode, what we have had since 2007 was AIB being the investigator, NCAA being the regulator and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) the airlines, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) being the service providers.”

He explained that the essence of forming a single body to probe all modes of transportation accidents was to make reports of accidents in any area of transport objective and authentic without influence from the chief executive officers of the agencies.

On financing of the new agency, Olateru said that had been taken care of with the six percent deduction from Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), another five percent from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) or any terminal operator that charges Passenger Services Charges (PSC).

The Director General of Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, Engr. Akin Olateru with the management team displaying newly released accident reports in Abuja

“There is the percentage of railways tickets sold in Nigeria that will come to NSIB, there is some percentage of money paid by the ships that come into Nigeria to NIMASA that will be coming to NSIB. We found a way to balance it so that no mode is left behind. On the finances, as long as we can drive all these proposals approved in the Act, I think finances should be ok. As you know that we are one agency of government under the UN Charter we are not allowed to charge for our services. You don’t charge for investigation”, he added.

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