The Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Akin Olateru, an aircraft engineer has relived the tragic incident of the 2005 Sosoliso plane crash in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, and underscored the importance of adequate fire cover for airports in the country.
He stated that the Sosoliso crash was an occurrence, which nobody prays to experience again because it was not just that the aircraft crashed, not just that people were burnt to death but that parents watched while their children were burnt to death, adding that the memory would remain etched in the memory of not just the parents but the nation that witnessed the death of young school children who died in the accident.
Olateru however commended the Federal Government for boosting aviation safety in the country with the recent procurement of fire tenders for airports across the country.
Giving this commendation in Abuja while receiving the executive members of the Nigeria Aviation Fire and Safety Association (NAFSA) in his office, the NSIB boss said this was in line with the safety recommendation made in the past by NSIB, which was formerly known as Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
According to Olateru, by this gesture, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation, has demonstrated its commitment to air safety and underlined the critical place of firefighters in the safety of air travelers.
Said Olateru, “Sosoliso crash is an occurrence, which nobody prays to experience again because it was not just that the aircraft crashed, not just that people were burnt to death but that parents watched while their children were burnt to death. They were helpless. That memory will be with any parent for life.”
Olateru commended Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for implementing the recommendation, adding that although it is coming more than 15 years after, ‘it is better than never.’
While underscoring the importance of firefighters as first responders during occurrences, NAFSA President Ugbeikwu Sunday Ugbeikwu sought collaboration between NAFSA and NSIB to further boost aviation safety in the country.
This partnership, according to him, would ensure an interface between firefighters as first responders during air occurrences and NSIB as investigators, which he said would assist in delivering thorough investigation.
The NSIB boss lauded the critical role of aviation firefighters in air safety and urged them to assist NSIB in preserving the evidence at the crash sites.
The two organisations agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding as soon as possible to strengthen the relationship.
A committee to draft the MoU, which includes the NAFSA President, the NSIB Company Secretary, Alhaji Dalhatu Kakangi, and General Manager, Safety and Security, Mr. Olumide Osineye was constituted.