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Safety: Africa stirs

Only three weeks ago this column looked at the problems of aviation safety in Africa, particularly Nigeria.

Now, apparently, Nigeria is preparing for a shake-up of its entire aviation at governmental and agency level. That includes the aviation ministry, the aviation authority, the air accident investigation agency, the airports agency, airport managements, and so on.

This would be so difficult and so painful that the only realistic reaction is: we’ll believe it when we see the results.

Aviation in any one country is a small world, and a purge like this will involve close friends giving evidence against each other. As the evidence of serious incompetence at almost every level is plain to see in Nigeria’s aviation infrastructure, unless some kind of amnesty is a part of the solution, the result would be to throw out most of the existing office holders. That may indeed be desirable, but the result will not be good unless incompetence is replaced by expertise and the newly held power is wielded responsibly. Quality leadership at government and agency level will be crucial.

Meanwhile, African Civil Aviation Commission president Tshepo Pheege has referred to “flying coffins”. He is referring to unchecked operations by ancient Antonov turboprops from countries like the Congo (DR). Uganda has woken up to this and banned them – a good example for other states.

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