Bill to empower AIB investigate road, rail, marine accidents before Senate

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has disclosed that a bill to empower the bureau to investigate rail, road and marine accidents and serious incidents is currently before the Senate.

AIB’s Commissioner, Akin Olateru, confirmed the development to journalists in Lagos on Sunday.

Olateru noted that the Federal Executive Council had approved its proposal for the new draft bill of AIB, adding that the bill was on the table at the upper chamber before the Senate went on recess.

“We are currently working on the possibility and the approval by the National Assembly of AIB going multimodal in our operations.

“Going multimodal means we are not just going to be investigating air accidents alone but we will be investigating rail, marine and road accidents.

“We will be joining other nations around the world who operate the multimodal system.

“Hopefully, before the end of this year, this bill will be passed and that will make AIB Nigeria one of the top nations that operate multimodal system,” he said.

Olateru noted that the reason the likes of Samsung, Apple, Amazon were top brands in the world today was that they spent time, money and energy on research and development.

According to him, if an organisation remains stagnant in its operations without research and development, then the world would go pass the organisation.

The commissioner said in those days he remembered if anyone talked of mobile phone, the first thing that would come to mobile users’ mind was Nokia.

“Today, if you talked about mobile phone, you will talk of Samsung and Apple, why? Research and development.

“For any company to survive in this world, it must invest heavily in research and development.

“This is why AIB Nigeria went back to the drawing board and came out with the review of our regulation to take care of those things we have missed and to ensure we are on top of our game,” he said.

Olateru said the techniques of accident investigation whether it was road, rail, marine, or air was the same, while the end goal remained how to prevent future occurrence.

He said in preparation for the multimodal system in the last one year, AIB had sent 30 of its investigators to Cranfield University in the United Kingdom to train on the multimodal accident investigation.

He said they were all back in Nigeria and it had another two investigators going in September to complete the cycle.

He added that the organisation was also working closely with the U.S.-NTSB and Singapore-NTSB on training.

According to him, the training is to learn on the job, not just to sit in the classroom but to be physically present with the U.S. investigators during investigation.

Olateru said by the time this bill was passed, AIB would take on some workers from Nigeria Railway and Maritime who would be trained on how to investigate accidents properly.

He said the multimodal system was a huge scope because AIB Nigeria was not charging for it, adding that the agency, therefore, required more funding by the federal government.

“If you look at the new Act before the parliament, we have increased our scope of earnings to accommodate enough funds for AIB to function.

“The fund will be used to support our operations, train our personnel, buy more equipment and support the multimodal system as a whole,” he said.

Olateru, while reacting to the possibility of having a data recorder system on all the transportation system said that in the world today, most ships and trains now have a recorder system.

The commissioner, however, said there was a way the bureau could investigate road accident beyond the recorder system.

Olateru said, “On the road accident investigation, whenever there is a road mishap due to maybe huge ditch on the road, then we will issue safety recommendations to Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) as well as Ministry in charge of Roads, Power and Housing to fix the road.

“This is because we do not want the recurrence and once it is fixed it will prevent needless deaths on our roads.

“People die on our roads but the problem is, nobody investigates it, nobody says this is what we need to do to prevent future occurrence.

“We have heard of many tanker fire incidents several times, have we ever read a single recommendation on how to prevent it.

“So this is the area AIB will come in to prevent needless deaths on our transportation system.

Also, the Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt Nogie Meggison, congratulated the commissioner for being proactive in moving the bureau to the next level.

Meggison said the airlines and the aviation sector were proud of him to be a Nigerian, adding that his dream was to put Nigeria first.

“If there is an accident in Kathunm for instance, instead of calling NTSB, the country should be able to call AIB; if there is an accident in Cape Verde, the first thing that should come up is AIB Nigeria.

“Olateru has performed creditably for AIB, the aviation industry and the country as a whole,” he said.

Meggison said the association looked forward to the success from the singular investigation to a multimodal accident investigation.