Parliament on Thursday passed the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau Bill, 2020, to bolster Ghana’s quest of becoming the aviation hub in West Africa.
The Bill, now an Act, seeks to establish an autonomous body to investigate, prevent, regulate and oversee the management of aircraft accidents that may occur in the country.
It is anticipated that, by this, the investigative body’s work would meet international standards and practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
According to Parliament’s Roads and Transport Committee’s report, the passage of the 39-clause Bill would put Ghana in a league with national and international ICAO obligations and best practices.
Per the new Act, the Minster of Aviation, under section 25 of the Ghana Civil Aviation Act 2004 (Act 678), is clothed with the power to institute investigation into aircraft accidents and serious incidents arising out of or in the course of air navigation that occurred in or over Ghana.
Presenting the Committee report, Chairman of the Committee and Member of Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayensuano, Samuel Ayeh-Paye, said Ghana’s aviation industry was robust and had carved a niche for itself in the aviation industry globally, hence the need for such a body.
“If Ghana is to achieve its vision of being the aviation hub of West Africa, then its infrastructure and institutions have to be transformed and aligned with national and international obligations and best practices,” he said.
Since 2012, Mr Ayeh-Paye said, Ghana has recorded four aircraft accidents which resulted in the death of persons and damage to property.
To establish the causes for such accidents, he said government in March 2019, established the Accident Investigation Bureau as an administrative unit of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for the conduct of investigation into aircraft accidents.
“This Bureau continues to function while research into international best practices and references to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) has called into question its current alignment and subsequent need for the establishment of a more prudent and consolidated autonomous body.
“A comprehensive report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Validated Mission (ICVM) in Ghana, from March 20, 2019, affirmed the position of establishing an independent institution to conduct investigations into aircraft accidents and serious incidents when they occur.
“Further, it has also been realised that ad-hoc investigations into aircraft teams are not only expensive in terms of operational cost, but not sustainable as far as institutional memory for future investigations, policy enforcements, which meet international obligations are concerned,” he said.
The ICAO SARPs, he said required the need to establish a more autonomous and consolidate body to man the Accident Investigation Bureau and in line with the recommendation, the Organisation conducted a validation mission to test Ghana’s level of effective implementation (EI) of ICAO and SARPS.
“Ghana obtained an EI score of 89.89 per cent. Despite this great achievement, the mission recommended that the Bureau be given an autonomous status hence the consequential changes by way of legislation.
“The proposed transformation of the bureau into an independent bureau by the Bill will empower the bureau to function efficiently and effectively and its findings will invariably receive international credibility while promoting air safety and our national image,” he said.
Seconding the motion, Ranking Member on the Committee, Governs Kwame Agbodza, welcomed the investigative bureau and said it would give Ghana a shot in the arm of becoming the preferred aviation destination; not only in the West Africa sub-region but the continent as a whole.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI