As Nigeria joins the rest of the world on the International Day for the Commemoration of Air Crash Victims and Their Families, the Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria(AIB-N), Engr. Akin Olateru, has urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to make effective policies and regulations that will mandate airline operators to have Family Assistance Plans as part of their emergency plan or procedure.
He said this while briefing journalists on the essence of February 20 in Abuja at the weekend.
NCAA, he also said should ensure that such assistance programmes are supervised, exercised and audited appropriately, adding that the ICAO’s Policy and Manual on the Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families is contained in Doc 9998 and Doc 9973, respectively.
This detailed information on ICAO’s Family Assistance policies and guidelines, he said are available online.
Speaking on the role of government and other stakeholders, Olateru said that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Bureau is following the international standards and procedures to ensure that everything is put in place to provide the requisite support for victims of air incidents and their families.
He informed that under the 2013 National Civil Aviation Policy, the Bureau is charged with the responsibility of rendering Family Assistance to victims and their families at times of aircraft accidents, adding that this is a wraparound service to be provided at the time of an incident and during investigation?
The AIB-N however noted that aircraft accident investigation is separate from the provision of Family Assistance and that until recently, the enabling legislation did not exist to enable the bureau carry out this mandate.
“Nonetheless, the Bureau has provided family assistance in the recovery of personal effects of victims, identification of bodies, provision of information on accident Investigations, and pathological services, amongst others.
“AIB has also participated in the commemoration of air crash accident anniversaries.
I believe that irrespective of the scale of an accident, the victims and their families should receive appropriate and timely assistance,” he said.
AIB-N boss posited that assistance programmes, in support of aircraft accident victims and their families, require cooperative planning and response by the air operator, State of Occurrence, non-governmental organizations and specialised commercial companies.
“I, therefore, would like to use this opportunity to recommend that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), put in place effective policies and regulations that will mandate airline operators in the country to have Family Assistance Plans as part of their emergency plan or procedure.” Olateru said
The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu said that it is the duty of stakeholders to do what they have to do to take care of the families of the victims, adding that one way to show concern is by commemorating the February 20 every year to demonstrate to the families that the industry cares.
He stated that NCAA had been working with AIB-N for the purpose of enhancing aviation safety, adding that though safety is the primary function of NCAA , it can however not do it alone.
“We cannot replace the people we lost during air crashes . We have been working with AIB-N who have been making safety recommendations that we have been implementing
“Safety requires the collaboration of all stakeholders . We will continue to work with AIB-N to ensure we enhance safety in the aviation sector .” he said
Also speaking a representative of the airlines, Capt. Chimara Imediegwu said that accident do happen in air transportation but that it is the duty of all the stakeholders to prevent it from happening.
He added that to prevent accidents from happening there must be training and retraining.
Imediegwu sympathised with the families of the victims and prayed that God will grant the victims’ families the fortitude to bear the loss.
On his part, the representative of Families of the Victims, Eric Bricks, while speaking at the event said, “When you lose someone very close to you there is no way to replace the person.
The initiative to commemorate the day is welcome. With this, I think everyone that have lost someone will be touched. It shows that the authorities and airlines are concerned.’