Parliament yesterday approved the Civil Aviation Act 2008 tabled by the minister of Transport and Aviation, Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay.
The Act provides for an independent and professional safety travel service in compliance with international standards.
Explaining the purpose of the bill, the minister told MPs that one of the most important sectors identified by government was the civil aviation sector. He stated that the civil aviation was a key factor in contributing to the global economy, providing greater opportunities to travel and tourism thereby creating an efficient supply chain and investment opportunities for infrastructural developments.
Mr Kemoh Sesay went on to state that in the government’s commitment to transform the economy of the country through private sector participation, the civil Aviation sector had been identified as one of the potential areas for private sector investment.
“It is therefore incumbent on us to create the enabling environment for private sector participation and ensure full compliance with international best practices in the Aviation industry,” he said.
He explained further that the Civil Aviation Act was governed by the Aviation Act of 1966 which established a Department of Civil Aviation within the ministry of Transport and Communications then. These provisions of the 1966 and 1984 Civil Aviation regulation were considered obsolete and fall far short of current requirement in the aviation industry.
The minister mentioned that, “the international civil aviation organization which regulates modern day air transportation has made it mandatory for all member states to operate their national laws to meet acceptable international standards and best practice which include the creation of a professional autonomous body to provide among other things regulatory oversight of the aviation industry.”
Explaining the rational of the bill, he said, “Mr Speaker, Sierra Leone is the only country in the sub-region that is yet to set up a civil aviation autonomy as this situation has led to the blacklisting of Sierra Leone registered aircraft by the international community.”
The access of an autonomous civil aviation body, he went on, further hampered the development of the aviation sector due to inappropriate regulatory frame work for the effective functioning of the industry.
“Sierra Leone lies behind in terms of meeting international standards and best practices in civil aviation. This bill when enacted into law will contribute significantly to the promotion and development of the aviation sector thereby ensuring the country occupies its rightful place among the 189 member states that constitutes the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”
The bill comprises eight parts. Part one deals with preliminaries and the second part with the proposed establishment and functions of the Sierra Leone Aviation Authority whose function will solely be regulatory as the civil aviation will not operate or manage air services.
Part three deals with registration and regulation of aircraft whilst part four looks at state regulation and part five the economic regulation of air operators with part six making provisions for the establishment and management of aerodrums and conduct of safety.
Part seven makes way for offences and penalties and the eight deals with the miscellaneous.