The Federal Government has asked aviation and maritime sector operators in Nigeria to use beacons, tracking technologies that allow speedy response in disaster situations.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that operators in the aviation and maritime sectors to strictly comply with international regulation regarding the use of 406MHz beacon to facilitate efficient and effective search and rescue operations in the event of disasters.
Muhammad Sani Sidi, Director-General of NEMA, who restated this during the sensitization and awareness forum for COSPAS- SARSAT beacon users in Nigeria held in Lagos, underscore the need for compliance by players in the local aviation and maritime sectors.
The DG, who was represented by the South West Zonal coordinator, Mr. Iyiola Akande said, the workshop was intended to remind the stakeholders of the importance of beacon handling and to intimate participants on emerging technologies relating to 406MHz beacons and COSPAS- SARSAT.
He said stakeholders’ views on the emerging technologies would be collected to enrich the Nigeria’s contribution to the ongoing discussion on the future of the COSPAS – SARSAT system.
All aircrafts and ships are mandated to carry functional 406MHz beacons to enable the COSPAS- SARSAT equipment to track them whenever in distress, NEMA said citing the case of missing Malaysian Flight MH370, which has underscored the need for aircraft and ship to be equipped with operational beacons. Although the Flight MH370 was known to have 2 beacons at the time of its disappearance, but nobody was sure if they were functional, according to him.
In his presentation, Commander Michael Igwe, Head of Nigeria Mission Control Centre, said that COSPAS SARSAT is a satellite-based high-tech meant to track down distressed alerts emitted by beacons in dire need of rescue and intervention anywhere in the world.
The aviation and maritime beacons are meant to track distress alerts from ships, ferries, canoes, choppers and aircraft in distress. However, he said that beacons could only be effective if the installed batteries are charged and functional.
He noted that in 2013, the mission detected the crash distress alert signal of Associated Airline at Murtala Mohammad Airport, Lagos and that of Diamond Airline crash at Aviation School Ilorin.
Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa are the countries that have such high tech equipment in Africa while Nigeria covers the west and part of central African regions.