As against pledge made by the Director General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority-SLCAA, Moses Tiffa Baio, during the launching of the International Civil Aviation Organization – ICAO Safety Project Fund at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi, aimed at meeting 60% of certification targets by 2020, the facility still hangs below 25% in terms of safety.
The airport refurbishment project as scheduled since last year is expected to be in top gear by now, but unfortunately for the facility, there is nothing to mention about safety and maintenance at the Freetown International Airport.
Sierra Leone’s only airport is still rated far below the standards of international airports in neighbouring Abuja, Lagos, Accra, Dakar Abidjan and Banjul.
Despite funds streaming in from donors and development partners including to the International Civil Aviation Organization, tune of millions of United State Dollars for the refurbishment of the facility, training staff-through regular capacity building schemes, ensure fire safety amongst several others safety precaution in tandem with international best practices, the Freetown International Airport is not up standard much as safety is concerned.
Also meant to be undertaken by SLCAA with the safety project fund in question, are the training of airport security personnel, the purchase of brand new fire engines, cranes as well as series of other safety equipment to meet international standard and ICOA requirements.
Funds were recently made available to SLCAA by a specialized agency responsible for the safety regulations of airports across the globe, ICAO with no exception of the Freetown International Airport, where safety is nothing to stand by.
The ICAO Safe Fund Project launched in 2019 was meant; to “help resolve the country’s aviation safety deficiencies and strengthen its oversight capabilities” with funds meant for the overall development of the transport sector as it formed part of president Julius Maada Bio developmental priorities, states media report.
Transport and Aviation Mr Minister Kabineh Kallon said at the launch of the project fund that the drive will boost the transport sector and address emerging safety risks.
But such targets still remain unmet amid alarming safety concerns being regularly raised by passengers traveling through the safety deficiency airport even before the coronavirus pandemic hit Sierra Leone.
This medium is reliably informed that the current fire engine at the Freetown International Airport is being paid for through an instalments payment plan by Kenya Airways per flight landings, which was recently stalled during the suspension of flight landings at the Freetown International Airport.
Apart from his neglect of duty in putting safety measures in place at the airport as mandated by law, the Director General SLCAA, Mr Moses Tiffa Baio who is said to largely overwhelm with assignments due to his bureaucratic and selfish tendencies, is virtually doing nothing to improve service delivery at the airport.
Our sources at SLCAA and at the airport are that Mr Baio hardly delegates assignment to his subordinates including Deputy Director General Mr Jack Massaquoi whom he is always at loggerhead with, even in the inefficient discharge of his duties.
When this medium contacted the SLCAA Director General, Mr Moses Tifa Baio in May this year to crosscheck with him, he said; “you don’t even have a website and I won’t talk.” He dropped the line.