NCAA: Bridging The Disconnect In Air Transport Regulations

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) recently came under intense scrutiny from the media and aviation stakeholders over what they perceived as big disconnect between the agency and the public.

They wondered if the country truly has an aviation regulatory body because of seeming silence. There is an adage that says that if you don’t engage the public in what you are doing, it would mean that the person is not actually doing his work. For months, the agency was in the media for the wrong reason.



Stakeholders called for the sack of the Director-General of NCAA, Capt Muhtar Usman for his less than satisfactory way of regulating a sector that is life dependent.

Usman felt the heat and felt there was the need to put on the table some of the achievements of NCAA in the past two years. Unknown to many, Usman and his team had silently embarked on airports certification that has reached the third phase.

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This was confirmed when the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the global aviation regulatory body visited the country.

The team led by Regional Director of ICAO, Western and Central African (WACAF), Mam Sait Jallow, said that the objective of the mission was to follow up on the AFI Plan Certification project and assist Nigeria with technical guidance towards the certification process.

The ICAO has selected two airports in Nigeria for certification. The airports are in Lagos and Abuja. Usman disclosed that the country scored over 90 per cent in the recently concluded ICAO audit; an indication that the agency may have raised the bar in regulation.

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He listed his four point agenda for 2017 at a crowded press briefing last week to include zero accident sustenance in aviation, increase in safety oversight, wider and more regular surveillance, stringent regulation enforcement and appropriate sanctions to be applied.

Last year was a very wonderful year for Nigeria’s aviation industry for not recording any air crash. Although accidents do happen even when the right things are done, but last year was so good for the nation in terms of aviation safety.

The usual serious incidents that usually happen on aprons and other places did not occur. It was a year that Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), the agency saddled with accident investigations, had all the time to focus on investigation of previous accidents without adding more burdens to the agency.

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What the agency needs more than ever is focusing on review and strengthening economic regulation with a view to taking more far reaching sanctions against erring airlines by looking into their operational books to be sighted with increased regularity.

He noted that beyond the challenges faced last year, Nigeria’s air transport industry retained its attractiveness by increasing the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with 88 countries. He said this has increased to 90 countries in December 2016.

Wole Shadare