Experts in the aviation sector have pointed out some loopholes in the new Civil Aviation Act assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last week, the President assented to eight bills recently passed by the National Assembly, one of which is the 2022 Civil Aviation Act.
The Civil Aviation Act 2022, which repeals the Civil Aviation Act, No. 6, 2006, was enacted to provide for an effective legal and institutional framework for the regulation of civil aviation in Nigeria in order to promote aviation safety and security, ensure that the country’s obligations under international aviation agreements are implemented, and consolidate the law relating to civil aviation regulation, among others.
The Act implies that despite empowering the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT) to provide a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the regulation of meteorology in Nigeria, the agency will still be subjected to the supervision of the aviation ministry.
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John Ojikutu, an industry expert and the secretary-general of Aviation Round Table, wondered what NiMeT is still doing under the Ministry of Aviation when it is also responsible for the maritime (transport), oil rigs (petroleum), etc.
He said: “NiMeT provides environmental services for various government agencies operating in the natural environment and aviation is not the only sector of the economy operating in the natural environment. There is a ministry of natural environment; why can’t NiMeT be subjected to the supervision of that ministry instead of just one of those whose agencies enjoy its services?
“Now it said NiMeT will be generating revenues for its services to the agencies outside the ministry and it will be self-regulating. How can this work effectively?”
He said he does not doubt the credibility of their services and their performance in the various sectors but stressed that they are wrongfully positioned.
Musa Nuhu, director general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said with the new Act, some residual regulatory functions in the service providers such as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria had been removed and moved to NCAA as the regulator of the industry to avoid conflicts of interest.
“These are the main things that we have in the new Civil Aviation Act 2022. There are other changes that are with the view to have a much more efficient, effective air transportation industry and to make sure Nigeria complies with the new International Civil Aviation Organization standards, new annexes and international best practices,” he said.
But Ibrahim Mshelia, owner of West Link Airlines Nigeria and Mish Aviation Flying School, said the NCAA was supposed to be a regulator, adding that it would be wrong for a regulator to act as both regulator and a service provider.
He said: “NAMA is in charge of air navigation services. This is a service provider. It is supposed to be subjected to regulations. The NCAA is supposed to regulate them. How do you take a service provider and put it under a regulator? If the service it is providing is sub-standard, who are you going to complain to? The NCAA is not supposed to be coupled with anyone.
“When you couple things, you do so to reduce unnecessary wastage. Ghana Civil Aviation is autonomous and as they are becoming bigger, they are trying to decouple. The NCAA is supposed to supervise all other agencies and every other agency is a service provider. NCAA does not provide service to anybody; it is supposed to regulate and monitor compliance with all the service providers.”