These were some resolutions of two separate meetings with teams from Gambia and Sierra Leone aimed at charting the course for the regional investigative body and strengthening it.
Commissioner, Banjul Accord Group investigative Agency (BAGAIA), Engr. Charles Irikefe Erhueh held these meetings between 14th December and 18 December, 2020 dwelling on key issues including the signing of the Project Document (ProDoc.) – Management Service Agreement (MSA), possibility of Accident Investigation Group (AIG) set up (advice from Nigeria’s perspective) as well as the need to offset outstanding subscription to BAGAIA commission
In the Gambia, the BAGAIA Commissioner and his team met with the Representative of the Minister, Mr. Mod K. Ceesay between 14th December and 16 December, 2020 where he sought the MSA for legal backing of ICAO-Technical Cooperation Bureau (TCB) services to BAGAIA.
Presenting a hard copy to the Minister through the Head of BAG Secretariat, Mr. Abdullahi Jammeh; it was noted that TCB carried out recruitment of the BAGAIA Commissioner and is currently doing same for the Technical Director without this document signed by the Member States.
According to resolutions from the deliberations it connotes that the TCB is executing such assignment without the consent the Member States.
Rep of Minister, Mr. Mod K. Ceesay, on his part thanked the BAGAIA Commissioner while agreeing with the DG, that the document will be sign after which it is received at the ministry.
On the need for an effective regional accident investigative agency, Engineer Erhueh explained that in the event of Accident it is the state responsibility to institute the investigation but such investigation can be delegated in part or whole to BAGAIA especially when there is a shortage of capacity to handle it.
According to him, among others one main function of BAGAIA is to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between member States in respect to investigation of accidents and serious incidents.
He however surmised that it in no way takes away the state responsibility hence there is a great need for the setting up Accident Investigation Authority in the state.
He went further to give the insight on the emergence of the AIB-Nigeria which was formerly a department in the Ministry of Aviation and how it has become a world-class investigation body advising that a journey of a thousand mile starts with a step, and urging the Gambians to emulate the AIB-Nigeria and stressing the need to have an independent accident investigation authority separate from the civil aviation authority and not a department under any ministry.
BAGAIA Commissioner further referred to the Gambia Civil Aviation Act 2018 as enacted has promulgated the establishment of the Independent Accident Investigation Authority and emphasized the need for the implementation of the Act so that it should not remain findings in upcoming ICAO-USOAP and close any gap as the case may be.
Rep. Minister then said he was happy and pleased with what the Commissioner said, and agrees in totality for the setting up of independent AIB in the Gambia as separate from the Ministry.
Also, that they are in consultation and have concluded with their cabinet they will ensure to move or fast to implement it and that provision has been made for that.
The story was no different when the commissioner visited Sierra Leone from December 16 to 18th, 2020 where one of the resolutions was that also establishment of Independence of AIB as stated in the Civil Aviation Act of 2019 is an actionable item that will done as quickly as possible in first quarter of 2021.
In his presentation, the BAGAIA Commissioner Engr. Erhueh, maintained that the mandate of BAGAIA is to assist the Banjul Accord Group (BAG) Member States in the conduct of an independent investigation of aircraft accidents and serious incidents in compliance with international standards. Their vision is to be a leading regional accident investigation agency.
“Our primary aim of this visit is to make sure that the State of Sierra Leone set up its Accident and Incident Investigation component strengthen cooperation and collaboration between member States in respect to the investigation of accidents and serious incidents. Also, to help develop a common set of regulations (compliant with Annex 13), develop guidance materials, investigators handbooks, manuals and checklists”,he concluded.
Responding to the commissioners appeal for the establishment on an independent investigative body, Minister of Transport &Aviation and Head of BAG Council of Ministers, Hon. Kabineh Moinama Kallon, expressed total support in the idea stating that the Ministry was in consultation with the sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA).
He said, “On the setting up of the Accident and Incident Investigation Department here in Sierra Leone, we will sit and discuss with the SLCAA being the technical body charged with such responsibility. We will also try to discuss with the Ministry of Finance in seeing how best we will try to settle our subscriptions to BAGAIA”.
“As a government, we are not averse to the setting up of this department, it is a safety issue. We are always ready to cooperate with other member States. We will do all in our capacity to make sure that we have a functional independent Accident and Incident Investigation Department in Sierra Leone”,the Minister concluded.
In his statement, the DG of SLCAA, Moses Tiffa Baio, however, updated the Minister about the session held with the BAGAIA Commissioner at the Authority’s office, which they were able to interact with the management of the Authority.
“The Commissioner and his team were able to proffer some advice as to how the State of Sierra Leone will set up the Accident and Incident Investigation Department”.
“The BAGAIA team will continue on the technical level with the SLCAA technical team to look at the State’s Corrective Action Plans, and the Protocol Questions that are related to the Accident and Incident Investigation”, Baio said.