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Sosoliso, Chanchangi airlines grounded

Posted by By LUCKY NWANKWERE, Abuja on 2005/12/14 | Views: 501 |

Sosoliso, Chanchangi airlines grounded

The Federal Government Tuesday ordered the immediategrounding of all aircraft in the fleet of two major airlines, Sosoliso and Chanchangi.

The Federal Government Tuesday ordered the immediategrounding of all aircraft in the fleet of two major airlines, Sosoliso and Chanchangi.

This is one of the major fallout of the presidential forum on aviation convened in Abuja by President Olusegun Obasanjo to look at the current state of the aviation industry, stem the tide of aviation accidents in the country and rebuild confidence.
The president who read the conclusions at the end of the forum said all the aircraft in the fleet of the two airlines would be subjected to serious checks within one week to ascertain their level of air-worthiness.

"Sosoliso and Chanchangi airlines will be grounded with immediate effect, until all their aircraft can secure clearance by the new inspection agency within one week", he stated.
He said the order was one of the drastic measures which government had decided to take in the interim to halt the decay and drift in the aviation sector which in the last one and a half months had claimed about 226 lives through air crashes.

While insisting on the enforcement of professionalism in all the parastatals of the aviation ministry, President Obasanjo announced the setting up of a special task force headed by Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike to ensure that facilities at the country’s airports are of international standard.
"A committee headed by AVM Paul Dike, is hereby established as a special task force to carry out urgent supplies, repairs and maintenance of all airport facilities and equipment to meet international standard.

"The members of the committee are Captain Rowland Iyayi, chairman, FAAN, Eng. Mohammed Danbaba, Captain Austin Okon, Arch. Tunji Bolu, Tony Elumelu, and the managing director of Virgin Nigeria", he pointed out.

President Obasanjo directed the Minister of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Borishade to immediately effect necessary personnel disengagement and redeployment across the parastatals of the ministry to reposition the sector.

As part of the solutions to the problems in the sector, he also announced the establishment of global radar in all the airports across the country, beginning with Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos which he said would be completed by December 2006.

He said all aircraft flying and operating in Nigeria’s domestic airspace would be checked out within a week and those found to be defective in any way as far as servicing records, age, maintenance and operational capacity is concerned would immediately be grounded.

To ensure integrity of inspections by aviation experts, he said two International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) officials had been seconded to Nigeria to join the team of inspectors, adding that the country would ask for more ICAO officials if the need arose.

Also, new classification and method of inspection would be put in place in the country through IATA and would be in place before the end of January 2000, he equally announced as part of the conclusions at the forum.

The president said the civil aviation bill that would grant operational autonomy to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which is currently before the National Assembly would hopefully be passed by March 2006.

Painting a sorry state of the country’s aviation industry which he attributed to negligence and large scale corruption by the officials, he said no responsible government would fold its arms and watch the perpetration of the carnage which the country had witnessed in the past few months.
So long as he remained the president of the country, he told the gathering that he would not shy away from taking whatever decisions required to correct anomalies in our system no matter how painful they are to some people.

He said the drift in the aviation industry had gotten to such a level where people had become apprehensive in the country to travel by air and preferring road travel instead, no matter the distance, noting the urgent need to halt the trend.

The Minister of Aviation, Prof. Borishade had in his address at the occasion said he inherited a very sick aviation sector, which he blamed on the lack of investment in the sector for a very long time.
He pointed out that the sector was ridden with obsolete and outdated equipment and populated by people whose professional integrity was questionable and called for urgent government intervention to stem the tide.

On the grounding of the two airlines, the special assistant to the president on public affairs, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode clarified that the decision was based on a letter which the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette wrote to the former aviation minister, Mallam Isa Yuguda which exposed the defective operation of the operators.
He said the clarification became necessary in order that people do not read ethnic bias in the decision of government.

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