From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

The Hub of West Africa!
Jun 25, 2009, 17:28

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s dream of tapping Sierra Leonean expertise in different fields of studies from abroad to come back home and add their own blocks in rebuilding and rebranding the image of the country, has simultaneously put hands on deck to push his agenda for change and has started bearing fruit, as the Diaspora Affairs Office at State House, under the Directorate of Dr Michel Sho-Sawyer has already saved the plight of what used to be known as an ailing Sierra Leone Civil Aviation, by bringing into the country two aviation experts who are now restructuring the industry.

In partnership with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, the Diaspora Affairs Unit recently replaced vacancies at the Civil Aviation Authority with a Flight Inspector and Airworthiness Inspector, which the Ministry has for a long period not been able to do.

With over thirty years of experiences in the field of aviation, these experts are now charged with the sole responsibility to reorganize the aviation industry in Sierra Leone. Well set and ready to tackle the challenge, Joseph Kotey Fombo, a British-Ghanaian who is now Sierra Leone’s Civil Aviation Authority Safety Inspector and the Nigerian national J. Sam Abokie is the Civil Aviation Safety Inspector Operation. In a bid to gauge their intention and how prepared they are to address problems faced by the civil aviation industry and what they can offer the West African state, Kotey Fombo who is also an expert flight engineer said they are in to help Sierra Leone’s air transport sector. He said the country needs to move forward and that it was high time to set standards in the industry, indicating they are currently focusing on the general aspect of the industry so that every thing can get up from the ground again.

As part of the assignments dedicated to the experts by the Office of Diaspora Affairs and Transport and Aviation Ministry, Mr Fombo disclosed that they are also in Sierra Leone to regulate the airport laws and to fit them inline with the international standards which is why according to him they have inspected all aircrafts in Sierra Leone including the helicopter which the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma uses for emergency travelling purposes.

Airworthiness Mr. Fombo maintained is to ensure that planes flying to and fro as well as those who fly in the airspace of Sierra Leone are in proper working order. Among aircrafts inspected and evaluated by the inspectors is the "cocaine aircraft".

Although the job offered by the Ministry of Aviation and Transport is challenging, yet Mr. Fombo believes that they will soon find it easy as they have already set up a logo for the Civil Aviation Authority which is geared towards complementing ICAO findings so that we can properly regulate the airport authority.

Like the Airworthiness Operation Inspector, the Civil Aviation Safety Operation Inspector, Sam Abokie said that they were brought into Sierra Leone from the Diaspora to rise up to the challenges posed against the Civil Aviation Authority noting that they are in the country to overcome obstacles facing the authority.

Having gone through the ICAO Audit Report, Mr. Abokie explained that they found out a lot of discrepancies and have recommended to the Ministry that necessary moves be made by government to address some of the hitches militating against the growth of the civil aviation industry, in accordance with the implementation of the ICAO recommendations.

He said they intend to start all over again, because the airport is not properly located and until the Airport is well located and with regular power supply, there will always be a lot of constraints for Sierra Leone to attract investors.

Mr. Abokie also catalogued high airport taxes as one of the factors that discourages investment in the country, citing the Lungi International Airport as a collector of the highest airport tax collector in West Africa.

For more information contact the Communications Unit of the Diaspora Affairs Office, Office of the President , State House, State Avenue, Freetown.

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