SAHCOL Chief Accuses NCAA Of Negligence
Managing Director of Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), Dr Olu Owolabi has accused the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of negligence in the performance of its regulatory oversight functions.
Speaking in an interview in Lagos against the backdrop of unauthorised use of equipment to disembark passengers by Aero Airlines last week, he said such unsafe practices happened because the regulatory authority is not carrying out its oversight functions on airports and airlines effectively.
Owolabi said the ugly development had become a wake-up call for the NCAA to insist that before any airport could be certified for any operations, either for passenger or cargo, requisite operational equipment that is serviceable and calibrated must be provided.
He also slammed domestic carriers engaging in self-handling for ground and passengers operations of taking unsafe decisions that could jeopardise safe flight operations at airports nationwide.
Owolabi said airlines that engage in such unsafe practices as a means to save costs are carrying out operations which are at variance with global internationally prescribed standards and practices.
He said there is need for government and domestic carriers to interface with ground handling companies to come out with the minimum operational equipment that would be required for any airport or certain category of flights and aircraft type to fly into any airport.
The SAHCOL chief insisted that before airports are built, ground handling operators should be engaged at the design and construction stage to ensure that global requirements in terms of ancillary support equipment for passenger and cargo handling are put in place.
He said though it may be impossible for ground handling firms to be engaged at every airport by domestic carriers, the managers of such airport must ensure that ground handling facilities and equipment are procured to be professionally managed by certified players in the sector.
Owolabi said: “It is very unprofessionally, if not barbaric, for any airline to disembark passengers using unauthorized equipment be it a ladder or whatever. Any airline that does such should be adequately sanctioned by the regulatory authority.
“What this has exposed is the underbelly of safety and security at our airports. Why should any airline do self handling, because they do not want to patronize any of the ground handling companies? How much do they even pay for our services, which require us to buy expensive equipment?
While insisting that it is the height of unprofessional practice, Owolabi said what this means is that NCAA should step up its oversight duties.
He said some state governments that manage airports have engaged SAHCOL to assist in providing ground handling to keep in line with global practices. “Any state government that wants to build an airport must be mandated to ensure that minimum ground handling equipment are put in place,” he said.