The Minister of Transport and Aviation Kemoh Sesay signed a joint communiqué with the President of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez for the attainment of compliance with international aviation standards yesterday and recommended practices to enhance aviation safety. During the ceremony, which took place at the conference hall of the Kimbima hotel, the ICAO president said that ICAO is prepared, to the best of its ability, to provide any assistance needed by Sierra Leone in order to achieve greater compliance with international requirements and improved levels of safety oversight. “The actions taken and the commitment expressed by the Government to comply with ICAO requirements, resolve its safety oversight deficiencies and secure flight safety,” he said. Mr. Gonzalez pointed out the need for all Contracting States that are signatories to the Chicago Convention to live up to their safety oversight obligations and comply with the Articles 37 – Adoption of international standards and procedures. He appealed to the Government to ensure that revenues and financial resources accruing from civil aviation activities are reinvested in the sector for the purpose of enhancing its development and improvement of safety and security standards.The President further called on the Government to take advantage of the assistance offered under regional and sub-regional mechanisms, such as the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa and the Cooperative development of Operational Safety and Continued Airworthiness Programme (COSCAP) for the Banjul Accord Group of States (BAG) and for Sierra Leone to participate actively as a member of the soon-to-be-established regional BAG Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO). “President Koroma recognized the need for Sierra Leone to develop its Aviation Sector not only to facilitate trade and tourism, but also meet the growing challenge posed by international terrorism, drug trafficking,” Kemoh Sesay said. “It is against this background that government took the bold step of creating his ministry as the vehicle through which we will be able to realize the twin aim of opening up the country for international trade and commerce and facilitate the development for our tourist industry said the Minister.” He added that ICAO’s intervention in the mid 1980s culminated in the setting up of the Sierra Leone Airports Authority 1988. In its desire to ensure flight safety, both within the domestic air space of member countries and international air corridors, ICAO instituted the Universal Safety Oversight Audit programme for member states in 1997.
Sierra Leone, he said, had its first audit of its aviation sector under this programme in 2006, following with a number of recommendations which were not implemented and the Civil Aviation Department continued to be administered poorly.