The British Airways Flight BA75 flight to Lagos, which was grounded due to bird strikes, has exposed the poor emergency response at the Lagos State Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).
The incident occurred on December 30, 2020, and the delayed response by the Fire Department of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the airport almost worsened the incident as smoke engulfed the plane due to hydraulic leakage after the bird strikes.
The British Airways flight operated by Boeing B777-300 aircraft, which left London to Lagos on December 30, 2022, suffered multiple bird strikes on its final approach to land at the international runway, 18R but it managed to land successfully.
The bird strike caused hydraulic leakage, but the aircraft touched down safely and taxied out of the runway but it could not reach the apron because it lost its nose wheel steering, as the hydraulic system in the aircraft indicated zero quantity and smoke was seen from the main landing gear, forcing the aircraft to stop on the taxiway.
The pilot of the flight, called for emergency but there was no response until after 11 minutes when two firemen came to the aircraft with handheld portable fire extinguisher instead of a firefighting truck, which arrived 16 minutes later.
But on a careful examination by the British Airways engineer that accompanied the flight, it was established that hydraulic fluid was dripping onto the hot brakes of the main landing gear of the aircraft, causing the smoke, which could have snowballed into a fire outbreak.
The fire department officials did not prepare for the emergency because the department is on the listening line between the Air Traffic Control and the pilot, so the officials in charge during that time ought to know the situation on ground, as they have direct information about the development.
A former senior official of the Fire Department who has retired, made enquiries about the incident said the firemen were not ready because those on duty when the incident happened were supposed to be kitted in their boots and other insignia but they were not dressed for the emergency.
The Regional Terminal Manager of the Lagos airport, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba, who confirmed the incident, confirmed that the Fire Department is on the listening line with ATC and pilots.
She said Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has its processes in responses to different kinds of emergencies, adding that bird strike is a natural phenomenon associated with flights, which is not exclusive to Nigeria.
Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, disclosed that the airline’s aircraft has suffered bird strike many times but noted that the rate has reduced in recent times.
He said that to reduce the incident, FAAN’s Wildlife and Bird’s Department should ensure that the grasses at the airport, especially the runway area, are cut regularly, adding that the catering companies at the airport dump waste on the premises to attract birds.
“We have had a couple of bird strikes but usually our take-offs and landing don’t happen at the times birds come around at the Lagos airport. We agreed during a recent meeting that the catering companies should stop dumping rubbish at a place near the runway, which attracts the birds. I think they have agreed and moved their dumping ground but the birds are still coming,” he said.
Kenya, IMF in Talks to Renew $1.5bn Facility
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has confirmed its talks with Kenyan authorities to renew a 165 billion shilling (about $1.5bn) standby loan facility.
The IMF Director of Communications Department, Gerry Rice, disclosed that the lender was in Kenya in late 2020, reached an agreement in many areas on implementation of the fiscal plan.
“We are in discussions with the Kenyan authorities on the possibility of a programme to support the next phase of their response to the crisis,’’ Rice said in a statement.
“We had a mission there toward the end of last year, and reached an agreement in many areas so that technical work is continuing,’’ he said.
“We hope that will lead to something being presented to our board for consideration in early 2021.’’
The IMF withdrew access to the standby facility in June 2018 after Kenya failed to meet programme objectives such as reducing the budget deficit and modifying interest-rate controls.
An IMF team and the Kenyan authorities had agreed that a reduction in the fiscal deficit to 7.2 per cent of GDP in 2017/18 and further to 5.7 per cent of GDP in 2018/19, down from 8.8 per cent in 2016/17, would be appropriate.
Rice said Kenya continues to face an unprecedented external shock that will severely challenge the economy’s underlying health and the policy path forward.
“We are recommending a pause in fiscal adjustment this fiscal year to accommodate increased health spending and support for the economy during this shock,’’ he said.
“We are also recommending continued supportive monetary policy response, as has been the case in Kenya.’
“As we move beyond the crisis, it will be critical that the authorities resume the pursuit of fiscal sustainability, fiscal adjustment, especially now that the shock has increased the debt vulnerabilities,’’ Rice said.
“We would be talking in those terms about a reduction of the fiscal deficit through a well-balanced policy mix.’’
Kenya’s Treasury said the lack of IMF’s loan facility has badly affected the country’s foreign exchange defence mechanism over the past two years, resulting in a weaker shilling against major international currencies.
Kenya to Conduct Survey on Diaspora Remittances
The first-ever survey of its kind, will be conducted in February and March, and will be spearheading by the the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
Kenya will next month commission a survey on remittances from its citizens in the diaspora as it seeks to increase the inflows’ support in development and economic growth.
The first-ever survey of its kind will be conducted in February and March and will be spearheaded by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
Kenya’s apex bank will work closely with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and other stakeholders.
“The Survey on remittances aims at collecting valuable information on remittance inflows to Kenya to help guide policy, with the objective of boosting the role of remittances in supporting the economy and livelihoods,” CBK said in a statement on Friday.
The valuable information includes; the efficiency and cost of alternative remittance channels, challenges encountered in remitting cash or non-cash transfers, the availability and flow of information to Kenyans in the diaspora about investment opportunities in Kenya and the usage of remittances received.
Remittances are an important source of foreign exchange and they play a pivotal role in socio-economic development of recipient countries.
Despite the devastation by Covid-19 in the source countries, remittance inflows were strongly buoyant in Kenya in 2020.
The CBK notes that remittances rose to a record high of $3,094 million (Sh340.5 billion) in 2020, from $2,796 million (Sh307.7 billion) the previous year, an increase of 10.7 per cent.
In just of December 2020 alone, remittances reached a historical peak of $299 million (Sh32.9 billion).
“This remarkable growth of remittances has been supported by financial innovations that provided Kenyans in the diaspora more convenient channels for their transactions,” governor Patrick Njoroge has said, on behalf of the CBK.
The Survey on remittances will be an online program conducted in two parts—the first phase will focus on the sources of remittances (remitters and the source countries), while the second phase will target the households that receive remittances.
TheCBK said a link with more information concerning the survey will be circulated widely through various communication channels and will also be available on CBK’s website
North America and Europe make up over 70 per cent of where the diaspora inflows to Kenya are from.
Kenya’s National Treasury has for a while been eager to tap the diaspora market to support economic growth through investments in the country, with a keen focus on the capital market in rising infrastructure development funds.
NIN Deadline: Telecom Providers Deny Blocking SIM Cards
January 19 is the set deadline for subscribers to link their NIN with their SIM cards while subscribers without NIN have until February 9 to do so.
Mobile network operators in Nigeria including telecoms giants MTN and Airtel have dismissed all claims by subscribers that their SIM cards are being blocked before the deadline set for the linkage with the National Identity Number (NIN)
The Federal Government through the Nigerian Communication Commission had earlier ordered network providers to deactivate telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their phones to their National Identity Number.
January 19 is the set deadline for subscribers to link their National Identity Number with their SIM cards while subscribers without NIN have until February 9 to do so.
But some subscribers have complained about the inability to use their lines, suggesting that telcos have started blocking their SIM cards before the deadlines announced by the government.
As a result of this, large crowds resurfaced at the centres of the National Identity Management Commission nationwide after the Yuletide break with many NIN applicants disregarding previous appointment dates given to them by NIMC.
Regarding the large crowds that resurfaced at NIMC offices after the Yuletide break, NIMC Regional Coordinator, Funmi Opesanwo, said, “A lot of applicants complained that their SIM (cards) have been blocked and that is why we are experiencing these large numbers. We are trying to manage the situation.”
When asked about the alleged disconnection of subscriber lines, The Senior Manager, External Relations, MTN Nigeria, Funso Aina, said the operator has not started blocking SIM cards not yet linked with NIN.
“It is not true that we have started blocking SIM cards not linked with National Identity Number,” Aina said.
While commenting on the same issue, Vice President, Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, Emeka Oparah, also said no subscriber has been blocked yet.
“Airtel Nigeria is committed to ensuring total compliance with the directives of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Communications Commission on linking NIN with phone numbers. We have not blocked any customer and we will not block any customer at this point in line with the directives.” Oparah said.
Meanwhile, as a result of complaints that followed the large crowds that were seen at its state offices in Lagos and Abuja, NIMC has released a list of over 50 National Identity Number enrolment centres in both cities.
NIMC Spokesman Kayode Adegoke, said the decentralisation will help in decongesting the large gatherings at the state offices in Lagos and Abuja as well as make the NIN registration process more seamless for applicants.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had expressed displeasure at the large crowds at NIMC offices all over the country while calling on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, to shut down some NIMC offices over non-adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
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