The Minister of Transport and Aviation who doubles as Sierra Leone’s Chief Delegate to the International Civil Aviation Organization 40th General Assembly has reassured ICAO and the global aviation community of Sierra Leone’s Commitment to build a safe, secure, effective and efficient Civil Aviation System.
He made his reassurance in his address to the global aviation gathering during the ICAO 40th Triennial Assembly Session in Montreal, Canada.
In his address, Hon. Kabineh Kallon expressed Sierra Leone’s firm determination to join the global aviation family, recalling President Bio’s lasting relationship with the aviation community dating as far back in 1990s when he was trained as a Aviation Security Officer by United Nations (UN).
The Minister analysed the state of aviation in Sierra Leone referencing the New Direction Manifesto of President Julius Maada Bio: “Enforcement of regulations by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) continues to be weak and the CAA is not economically sustainable given its inability to generate revenue and its low level of compliance and capability.”
In highlighting the improvements made by the State to build a sound aviation system, Hon. Kallon said SLCAA had received enormous political support from the President, especially in making the Authority an autonomous body as required by ICAO. He also mentioned that Sierra Leone was amongst the twenty-eight African countries that have subscribed to the full implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
“Tremendous efforts have been put in place by the Bio administration to settle outstanding arrears in connection to international obligations. The Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Finance and CAA has paid $260,000 to ICAO as arrears, with a balance of $40,000 which will be paid in 2020,” he said.
In a bid to strengthen the SLCAA, he noted further that President Bio reconvened the House of Parliament on 26th August 2019 for the Repeal and Replacement of the Civil Aviation Act, 2017 to provide a strong legal framework in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), adding that the robust Primary Civil Aviation Legislation (Civil Aviation Act, 2019) has empowered the Authority to function effectively and efficiently.
Noting Sierra Leone’s low safety rating under the Abuja Safety Targets, the Transport and Aviation Minister, however, said Sierra Leone was determined to overturn the odds by focusing on building a competitive aviation system that could meet the demands of the global aviation market.
“In spite of all, I reaffirm Sierra Leone’s strong commitment to uphold the ideals and principles of ICAO under the Chicago and Montreal Conventions and also in the spirit of ‘No Country Left Behind’. I assure the global aviation family of our government’s commitment to provide the enabling political environment to support SLCAA in the process of regulating and implementing aviation safety and security standards in Sierra Leone without political interference,” the Minister said.
He ended by thanking ICAO, especially the Regional Office in Dakar, the Nigeria CAA, United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority international (UCKAAi), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) for their continued support towards the enhancement of global civil aviation safety and security in Sierra Leone.