SLCAA Organises Aviation Policy Workshop on ICAO Safety Audit

To build a strong safety oversight system in the air transport sector, the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation (MTA) has organised a three-day Aviation Policy Stakeholders’ awareness-raising workshop on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP) that will be conducted in November 2021.

The workshop is primarily organised as a proactive measure to reflect on the result of the past Safety Audit; evaluate the progress made so far, share the Authority’s activities with global stakeholders, and develop a road map to achieve the 60% global safety threshold.

Among the activities that would be rolled out, the three-day workshop would look at a presentation of the Global Safety Oversight System with Sierra Leone as a case study, an overview of the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program, the commissioning of the SLCAA International Staff Quarters and Surveillance vehicles, the status of the Sierra Leone Safety Oversight Systems by Audit Areas, and the development of a road map to address the safety deficiencies.

The Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Sadiq Silla, in his keynote address, recalled President Julius Maada Bio’s specific policy actions for the development of the aviation industry in Sierra Leone. He noted that those policy actions included the enhancement of Global Civil Aviation Safety by certifying the Freetown International Airport to meet international standards, the enhancement of Global Civil Aviation Security and Facilitation, and the development of an Air Transport Master Plan to foster the growth of a sound and economically viable Civil Aviation System.

“We commend the International Civil Aviation Organisation for their continued support to the State. Their technical assistance programs have proven very helpful towards reducing the State’s Lack of Effective Implementation and support towards the establishment of an effective and sustainable Safety Oversight System for Sierra Leone.”

He continued: “In 2006, ICAO assessed Sierra Leone’s Safety Oversight System, and unfortunately, the safety rating of the State fell far below the regional and global standards. To address this low rating, there has been a series of interventions by the State, especially under the leadership of President Bio and our International partners to address the deficiencies identified during the 2006 Audit. The recent assistance was the implementation of the Safe Fund project to address some of the State safety deficiencies.”

In his address by Mr. Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, ICAO Regional Director for Western and Central Africa (WACAF) lauded the initiative and described it as another demonstration of the proactive leadership approach of the Sierra Leone Authorities towards addressing aviation safety issues. He recognised that aviation has been a driving force behind the meaningful socio-economic development of any State.

“For almost two decades, ICAO has been performing Safety Oversight Audits of its Contracting States within the framework of the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). These audits have not only determined the safety oversight capabilities of Member States but have provided also a comprehensive understanding of the importance of an effective safety oversight system as an enabler of the growth and development of air transport,” he said.

He praised the all-inclusive approach involving all stakeholders, adding that it would facilitate a clear and common understanding of the USOAP framework and its processes, and timely preparations by regulators and industry in the establishment and implementation areas of the audit. He concluded by assuring the SLCAA of ICAO Regional Office’s continued assistance particularly with the involvement of the Government of Sierra Leone for the development of the Civil Aviation sector, and its inclusion in the priority development agenda of the State.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Transport and Aviation, Hon. Dickson Rogers said the Stakeholders Awareness-Raising Workshop has brought assurance for the revival of the Aviation Industry, adding that there could be no better way to restart the aviation without creating a platform for key stakeholders on safety and preparing the industry for the 2021 ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program. 

In his statement, the Deputy Development Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Umaru A. Conteh pointed out that the development of the air transport sector has been a key component in the drive to achieve economic diversification as documented in the Medium-Term National Development Plan (2019-2023) of Sierra Leone. The Deputy Secretary maintained that achieving the 60% global threshold would have an attendant effect on boosting our economy, the tourism sector and even generating revenue and creating employment for Sierra Leoneans.

The Senior Deputy Financial Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Emmanuel T. Komba believed that the workshop was critical to the evaluation of and planning for the Safety Audit. He expressed commitment to the process and assured of the ministry’s timely allocation of the needed resources for the successful completion of the Safety Audit.