By Lansana Fofanah.
A high powered delegation from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) headed by the Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, Mr. Mam Sait Jalloh is currently in the country to boost the safety sector of the aviation industry.
The visit is in early preparation for the launching of a new ICAO aviation safety for Sierra Leone and the associated assistant missions and to engage and sensitize the new government authorities on their commitment to the development of the aviation sector and to strengthen cooperation for fulfillment of Sierra Leone’s obligations as an ICAO member state.
Briefing the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Mr. Kabineh Kallon at his Youyi Building office in Freetown, Mr. Jalloh said that the first phase of the mission will be conducted by a team of ICAO Regional Office experts towards the end of October to roll out the SAFE Fund Project for the establishment of the Civil Aviation system and functions, Air Navigation Services, and Aerodrome and Ground Aids (AGA). He said that the project is meant to effectively assist in improving the level of effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices in the relevant areas.
He said that there use to be safety concerns in the country in 2013/14, but there have been improvements within the shortest period of time to meet safety standards.
On the issue of International Treaties, Mr. Jalloh said that only 15 out of 49 International Civil Aviation legal instruments have been ratified by the State and only one signed by Sierra Leone, which gives more responsibility to its fulfillment by the government.
“Sierra Leone has not met GASP and Abuja targets for effective Aviation Safety oversight. Aerodrome Certification requirement has not been met. Sierra Leone does not have a positive safety margin in any of the Audit areas, hence is not considered to have sufficient regulatory controls to cover its existing traffic volume. This in essence, constitutes a conflict in provision of SLCAA and SLAA Act.” he declared.
He called on the government to fulfill its financial obligations and to ensure that the SLCAA is empowered to be an autonomous body which will make it efficient in service delivery.
Responding, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon said that there is indeed a need to improve the safety sector of the Aviation industry. He said that most of the investors have the intention to invest in the country, but their utmost concern and fear is that of safety precautions.
The Minister said that despite the financial difficulties, they will work together to improve the sector and to use political will to empower the SLCAA.