Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah
One of the reasons why airlines do not strictly abide by the civil aviation regulations in many African countries is that the political leadership interfere with the decisions and actions of the regulatory agencies.
The reason was disclosed on Wednesday by the chairman of the session and the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (Dr. Harold Demuren) at the second day of the Ministerial Conference on Aviation Safety taking place in Abuja.
Demuren lamented that such interferences impede the plans of regulatory agencies to establish safe and reliable airlines in the continent.
The Director General noted that when an airline has run foul of the regulations and the civil aviation authority gives it condition, government personnel would overrule such condition by ordering the regulatory body to withdraw the punitive measure imposed on the airline.
He lamented that this affects the safety standard of airlines in Africa and that explains why the region records very high rate of accidents more than other regions in the world.
This is also why ICAO and other aviation regulatory bodies in the world canvass for the autonomy of the regulatory agencies so that government interferences would be drastically curbed.
Demuren accused some civil aviation authorities in the continent of issuing safety certificates to airlines without due diligence, adding that some of them had complained that political appointees in their governments give directives that were contrary to the overall objectives of ensuring safe air operation.
“Safety certificate should only be issued where the applicant has demonstrated full compliance with the requirements,” he cautioned.
The DG also remarked that in some cases the regulatory agency would want to do the right thing but government would not allow it to do so by mounting pressure, urging the authority not to withdraw an airlines certificate or not to ground an airline that had run afoul of the rules.
He also observed that sometime the regulatory body would be forced to issue certificate of air worthiness, air operator’s license and others in one day and signed by an individual but ideally this takes a long time to obtain if the defined conditions are met.
Demuren warned, “If there is anyone you are doing now stop it. If you have issued the papers, you should withdraw it and don’t issue it again.”