Switzerland confirms citizen, driver kidnapped in Nigeria - AFP
Switzerland confirmed Monday that a Swiss national and his driver have been kidnapped in Nigeria, after authorities in the west African country said gunmen had opened fire on his police escort.
The Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement that it was working with the Nigerian authorities, but could not provide further details on who the person was, or the circumstances surrounding the incident, which took place on Saturday.
“The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs confirms the kidnapping of a Swiss citizen and his driver over the weekend in Nigeria,” a spokesman said, in a statement sent to AFP.
“The FDFA and the Swiss embassy in Abuja are in contact with the local authorities. The FDFA is coordinating activities with the various departments of the federal administration relevant to this type of case.
“For reasons of personal and data protection, the FDFA cannot provide further information.”
The Swiss national and another person were seized as they were coming from a farm on the Ibese-Itori road in Ogun state, Ogun police spokesman Abimbola Oyeyemi told AFP on Sunday.
“They were intercepted… Two of the bandits were killed, but they succeeded in abducting two, a Swiss national and another person,” he said.
“The police are on the trail of these people.”
Kidnappings occur mostly in the northwest and central states of Nigeria where heavily-armed criminal gangs operate. Foreign workers are occasionally targeted for abduction for ransom.
Kidnap gangs are just one of the challenges facing President Muhammadu Buhari’s security forces who are also battling a 12-year jihadist insurgency in the northeast of Africa’s most populous nation.
Gangs this year have targeted schools and colleges to snatch dozens of students at a time. Around 1,000 students have been abducted in a string of mass kidnappings since December, though most have been freed after negotiations with their captors.
The foreign ministry’s spokesman added: “The FDFA’s travel advice for Nigeria draws attention to the risk of politically or criminally motivated kidnappings across the country.”
The ministry’s website says that at the end of 2019, there were 222 Swiss nationals living in Nigeria.
More than 50 Swiss companies have operations in Nigeria, mainly in the south. These companies have made direct investments amounting to approximately $550 million and employ more than 7,000 people, the ministry says.
At Last Green Africa Receives Operating License - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
After several months of high expectation, the upcoming domestic carrier, Green Africa Airways has announced that it has received Air Operator Certificate (AOC).
The Lagos-based airline said it received the required AOC from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Monday and plans to commence “soft launch of flight schedule immediately and first official commercial flight to take off on Thursday, August 12, 2021.”
“Following the successful completion of all five phases of the AOC application process, Green Africa was today (Monday) presented its Air Operator’s Certificate by Kayode Ajiboye on behalf of Capt. Musa Nuhu, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, at the NCAA headquarters in Abuja. With this certificate, Green Africa is able to commence operations in accordance with its initial route network unveiled earlier in June,” the airline said in a statement.
Speaking on the issuance of the AOC to Green Africa, Director General of NCAA, Capt. Nuhu said, “We at the NCAA are impressed with Green Africa’s effort and commitment to safely connect many more people across the country and we look forward to the positive contribution that the new airline will bring to the Nigerian aviation industry.”
Commenting on the major milestone for Green Africa, the airline’s founder Babawande Afolabi noted, “This is a watershed moment in our journey to use the power of air travel to create a better future. Thanks to the NCAA, the gTeam, our investors and other stakeholders, Green Africa is now set to start serving custom.
What Aregbesola told immigration officers - P.M.NEWS
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has demanded that all officers and men of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) acquaint themselves with their expected roles and responsibilities and be guided by the expected principles and standards of behaviours in the discharge of their duties.
The Minister said this at the launch of the NIS Code of Conduct and Ethics Document and unveiling of Electronic Data Management Systems (EDMS) at the Service Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, 10 August, 2021.
×Aregbesola said that as gatekeepers of the nation, NIS cannot but regularly showcase the cherished virtues of integrity, courtesy, sound morality and uncommon transparency in its official conduct.
He noted that the essence of setting code of conduct and ethics for any organisation is to ensure that actions, dispositions and behaviours of the workforce conform significantly with the laid down rules of engagement.
Stating that, “the code of conduct and ethics for the NIS should constantly speak to the need to always display sound judgement in the face of ethical and/or operational dilemmas” and therefore, “encapsulate the unambiguous benchmarks upon which ethical behaviours, values and actions shall be weighed to ensuring compliance to the laid down processes and procedures”.
While assuring of the Federal Government determination at addressing the challenges of passport administration and border management, which he referred to as ‘ethical challenges’, the Minister urged the NIS staff to always remember their integrated moral and civic obligations to the public and strive to be patriotic and exemplary in their official and private conducts at all times.
The Minister commended the NIS efforts at automating its processes and systems with the introduction of Electronic Data Management Systems (EDMS), noting that the system will ensure that “paperwork bureaucracy and unnecessary waste of man-hour in moving bulky files from one table to the other will be done away with”.
Aregbesola informed that the EDMS is following a list of digital transformations taking place at the NIS, and expects that speed for effective and efficient service delivery shall be highly improved while the skill sets of the workforce will be greatly upgraded.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, said the NIS Code of Conduct Document was developed in consultation with all relevant government established anti-corruption and related organisations, stating that training of staff will immediately commence to ensure proper integration and implementation of the document.
The dignitaries present at the event include: the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Interior, Hon. Nazir Zango Daura; the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Prof. Mohammed Isah; the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye; representatives from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); the National Orientation Agency (NOA), development partners and other stakeholders.
How U.S. citizens can make travelling from U.S. to Canada as painless as possible - THE CANADIAN PRESS
WASHINGTON — Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents can now enter Canada for non-essential purposes for the first time since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the two countries to severely curtail travel.
Still, there are stringent requirements and rules in place that need to be followed to ensure crossing into Canada goes smoothly. Here are five key questions to consider before making a run for the (northern) border:
1. What constitutes being "fully vaccinated," as far as the Canada Border Services Agency is concerned?
Several things. First, eligible travellers must have completed a full course of one of the four COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca (also known as Covishield) or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. No other vaccines are allowed. Secondly, and this is critical: 14 full days must have elapsed since the last dose, otherwise a person is not considered fully vaccinated.
2. Can I just show my vaccination card to the border agent?
No. Vaccination details must be uploaded to the agency by way of ArriveCAN, an online system that can be accessed either through the iPhone or Android app or via computer at the following web address: www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/arrivecan.html. Access to the system is not available until 72 hours before a traveller is scheduled to cross the border. When using the app, be sure to update it first; a new version is made available every time the regulations change. And don't even try to fake your way in; a pair of travellers who uploaded phoney vaccination cards and lied about their test results last month were each hit with nearly $20,000 in fines.
3. What else do I need?
Proof that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who lives full-time in the States, as well as a negative result from a molecular test for COVID-19, administered no more than 72 hours prior to reaching a border crossing point. So-called "antigen" tests are not permitted. Visitors are also required to keep the proof of their test results for a full 14 days upon entering Canada. Test documents, be they paper or electronic, must show:
— The traveller's name and date of birth;
— The name and address of the facility that administered the test;
— The date the test was conducted, the type of test and, of course, the test result.
Incidentally, fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also eligible to enter Canada without having to quarantine, provided they meet all the same conditions and requirements.
4. Anything else I should know?
Yes. Canadian border agents are randomly selecting otherwise eligible travellers for spot pre-entry COVID-19 testing, so be prepared to submit to a test before being allowed in. You should also have a quarantine plan ready and available to show the agent in the event that you develop symptoms of COVID-19, test positive at the border or otherwise don't fully qualify for the exemption. Also, expect to wait awhile: the additional screening measures are slowing things down a lot at certain entry points (a full seven hours Monday at the Fort Frances bridge between Minnesota and northern Ontario). If you're driving, check out CBSA's wait-times website at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/bwt-taf/me... to see if there's a better route to take.
5. I'm otherwise eligible to enter Canada, but I've already had COVID-19 and I'm still testing positive. What can I do?
Provided you are currently symptom-free, you can show proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test that was conducted between 14 and 90 days prior to trying to enter Canada. However, you will still need to show the results of a molecular test that's less than 72 hours old, even if the result is positive.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2021.
James McCarten, The Canadian Press
Airlines groan as aviation fuel price hits N315/litre - PUNCH
BY Juliana Ajayi
Airline operators have lamented the hike in aviation fuel price, saying the price instability is taking a toll on their operations.
The increase in the price of aviaton fuel, also known as Jet A-1, has been an issue of concern in the industry in recent months.
Our correspondent gathered that the price of Jet A-1 has risen to N315 per litre from N250-270 per litre between January and June. It increased to over N300 per litre towards the end of July.
Crude oil and jet fuel prices have continued to trend upwards in recent times. In the first half of July, the average price of Brent crude was $75.3 per barrel, while that of jet fuel hovered around $80 per barrel globally.
The Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Airlines Limited, George Uriesi, in an interview with our correspondent, said logistics was an issue to consider in addressing the challenges surrounding the increase in aviation fuel.
He said, “Since January, the price of aviation fuel has gone up every month until now. It has doubled from January till now, which means we are paying twices what we were paying for fuel in January. This is like doubling the fuel cost of the airline.
“Part of the problem is the difficulty of logistics; carting fuel around the country has become very harsh; the roads are so bad. The trucks are taking longer to get where they are going; they are also breaking down regularly.”
He said, “If there were proper infrastructure for good roads and security, the price would be cheaper.
“We have to fly, so we have as much as possible tried to take as much fuel as we can out of Lagos which is the cheapest fuel. But you still have to refuel everywhere you go. Every two or three days, they announce a new price to us, and on the average, we are paying double.”
Highlighting the impact of the aviation fuel price hike on airlines, he explained that increasing ticket fares did not necessarily mean that airlines would efficiently run its operations as there were limits to increasing airfares.
He said “When you are paying twice the amount of what you were paying before for fuel, which is your agent cost, you then have to try to be efficient in all your other expenses .You have to look for a way to add a little to the ticket price.
“There is a price at which your ticket would be sold, and the flight would go empty. You have to increase it to the point where the elasticity of demand of the passenger does not slack.”
“Some people might be forced out of business when it becomes unsustainable.”
The General Manager, Total Energies Nigeria, Mr Rabiu Abdulmutalib, at a conference held recently in Lagos, urged the Federal Government to intervene in making foreign exchange accessible to aviation fuel importers.
An airline official who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said what Nigerian airlines were urging the government to do was to encourage local crude oil refining.
“For us, we would continue to advocate local refining, which will reduce cost for airlines because Jet A1 remains one of the major cost issues for airlines and it keeps fluctuating with variation because the industry is deregulated.”
He explained that with local refining, airlines would pay less for aviation fuel and that would also play a key role in reducing the burden on passengers.
COVID-19: My experience on arrival at Lagos airport - THE NATION
•Nigerian in diaspora relives ordeal
Dr Ayokunle Akanbi
When renowned author Alan Paton wrote the award winning novel cry my beloved country; it was against the background of the unjust apartheid South African regime. My experience of the last few days made me cry for my beloved country: Nigeria.
As it’s common for most diasporans to have two homes; there’s always a raging thought in my mind as to when the push factors in my native country will be resolved. I have always been an advocate for diasporans to meaningfully contribute to the socioeconomic development of their native countries.
I remembered a speech I made at my 50th birthday celebration in Pretoria on the need for us in the diaspora to play a greater developmental role towards our native country, Nigeria. I was invited in 2019 by the Nigeria Doctors’ Forum ( South Africa) to give a lecture which was titled: The role of Diaspora Organizations in the Development Of The Nigerian Healthcare Industry. In attendance was the Nigeria consul general to SA amongst other dignitaries.
On Thursday, 5th August, 2021;My wife (Dr Mrs Remilekun Akanbi) and I (Dr Ayokunle Akanbi) were scheduled to travel to Lagos. Our flight was scheduled to arrive on 6th August, 2021 at about midday. We had planned to see our ageing and ill parents ; use the opportunity to inspect the progress of a project in Kogi state and spend some quality time together as a couple; 11th August being our wedding anniversary.
My wife had applied for a leave of absence from her employer and I had also arranged to take time off from my busy medical practice and other business commitments.
We had our COVID 19 PCR test done and proceeded to upload it onto the NITP site in order to generate a travel permit. We thought we had everything sorted out.
We were shocked when we arrived at the check-in counter and were advised by the airline that there’s a new directive from Nigeria to pay an additional N505,000 (five hundred and five thousand naira) per passenger before boarding. This, according to them, was because South Africa has been red flagged as a COVID 19 hotspot.This did not sound right to me but because we had to make a split second decision, we opted to pay and fight our battle later.
I can remember the story of an elderly man in a wheelchair who was denied boarding because the children were not able to pay the mandatory 505,000 naira.
I later realised on arrival in Lagos that some were able to board without payment probably through the back door; if you know what I mean.
On arrival in Nigeria; our passports were taken away from us and made to wait indefinitely. There was no acknowledgement or receipt given to us by any official indicating that our passports were withheld. We told the Immmigration and port health officials of our intention to go back immediately with the airline that brought us as we are not prepared to quarantine for 7 days at their facility for so many reasons. More so we should be on our way back on the expiry of the 7 day mandatory period.Our COVID 19 PCR test results were still within the 72 hour validity period.It was only after five hours of waiting,when my patience ran out ;and I demanded to see the head of port health; Dr Abdulai. I explained our ordeal to him and he immediately went to discuss with the controller of immigrations. At this point, we were told a permission has been granted for us to go back on the condition that we present our boarding passes for boarding. This was after all the available flights for the day had left.
We had to go and do another COVID 19 test so as to enable us travel the next day.
I must highlight the situation that ensued at the airport. Most of the port officials were not wearing their masks appropriately, there was no proper social distancing protocols at the point of entry. As the day progressed, we realised that the number of people whose passports were seized were reducing and we kept wondering what was going on.
There are people I know I could have called or “alternative pathways” of resolutions ( as they call it); that would have ensured my immediate clearance but we chose the high moral grounds of sticking it out.
On arrival at the Lagos airport hotel which was said to be a government approved isolation centre; we were disappointed and despondent at the reality that confronted us. There was a hand washing sink basin at the entrance without any soap, the rooms were so dirty, the bed linen were very old with a terrible stench, the hand washing basin in the room was not functional, there was no shower but we were given a bucket to wash with. The rooms were mosquito infested!Remember, I was travelling with my wife and was told we had to isolate in separate rooms until I refused on the basis that we had only one clean bed linen that we brought along and was able to change one of the room’s bed linen. The attendants at the facility were not wearing their face masks properly and some not at all. This is a recipe to super-spread the COVID 19 virus. We were told we were not allowed outside of our rooms. I really began to wonder who are those behind the formulation of these guidelines which are not in sync with international practices and protocols.
Our family has a seven bedroom duplex in Lekki which is under lock and key if none of the family members are in Nigeria. I pleaded that we be allowed to self quarantine at home at least for that night until our departure the next day. All our pleas were on deaf ears.
Please remember that we were COVID 19 PCR negative, fully immunised and we were asymptomatic but I was still told that I am PUI: persons under investigation for COVID 19. In essence, I was considered a bigger threat to public health than a confirmed positive case who did not travel and not made to quarantine. I was made to understand that people who tested positive within Nigeria were not being quarantined at a dedicated facility.
We had to buy another ticket the next day as I could not imagine spending another day in that facility without falling sick. We eventually, departed MMA airport at about 13:30hrs on 7th of August,2021. As I am writing this piece, we are just entering the South African airspace and looking forward to landing at OR Tambo airport shortly.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. It is within the powers of government to promulgate laws and regulations relating to public health. But when there’s a discordant and selective approach in the implementation of these guidelines; then one begins to question the rationale and motives behind such regulations. After going through this ordeal , I am left with more questions in my mind than answers.
Foremost amongst them are the following:
Since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year; governments around the globe have been trying to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on their citizens using different instruments that are available. That have been absent in the case of my beloved country; Nigeria, why?
The imposition of the seven day mandatory quarantine on citizens returning from some red flagged countries at costs to the travelers is insensitive and immoral on the part of Government. Not to mention the amount of five hundred and five thousand naira per passenger during this difficult time brought on us by the pandemic. How many of our citizens can afford this in a low income country like Nigeria?
It is also interesting to find out how these so called government approved isolation centres were chosen and the criteria used?
How can they justify the exorbitant amount charged for the quality of the hotels and the service rendered?
If public health is the main motivation here, government would be more interested in ensuring compliance with the three most important strategies that have been shown to be effective in mitigating the spread of the virus i.e mask up,wash up and maintain adequate social distancing. As we speak, parties are the order of the day, night clubs are operating at full capacity, transport vehicles are overcrowded to mention just a few super spreader events, in various areas in Nigeria. Most people seen in public places would not be wearing their masks.
This law and regulations need to be revised and Government should and must come to the party here. They should be made to fund this isolation centres and make sure they are safe, hygienic and suitable for people’s habitation. And I promise you, the real motivation for this insensitive regulation will then be laid bare.
All Nigerian diaspora organisations should engage the government on this as it infringes on our financial , emotional and physical well-being if we have to travel home, especially in an emergency situation.This is an additional financial burden on us.
Mrs Abike Dabiri (whom I am sending a copy of this letter), should use her honourable office to urgently address this anomaly.
I know a lot of my friends and colleagues who always question the absurdity of my love, passion and patriotism to Nigeria will argue their case with conviction here when they read about my experience. However, I am still very much convinced that if more of us contribute our positive quota, no matter how small in the building of Nigeria, we will get it right.
I am extremely grateful to my Uncle; Prince Oluyori, my brother Engr Tayo Akanbi, friends Dr Ayeye, Mr Olusile ; my personal assistant Mr Ibikunle and others I can’t mention here; who rushed to the airport when they inadvertently heard of my ordeal.
I am earnestly awaiting the day I will be able to travel back to Nigeria again. I don’t give up and will never give up. The refund of the one million and ten thousand naira for the two of us will be rigorously pursued.
I cry for my beloved country and pray that my tears will not be in vain.
God bless Bigeria.
- Akanbi is Chief Executive Officer Arydet Healthcare South Africa.
Air Peace flies into Douala, Ibadan - THE NATION
By Kelvin Osa Okunbor
Air Peace is set to begin commercial flights from Lagos and Port Harcourt to Douala, the capital of Cameroon from August 19, this year.
This is as the airline is also set to launch its Abuja-Ibadan route on August 17. Spokesperson of the airline, Stanley Olisa, who made this known yesterday said the Douala route would operate three days weekly while Ibadan service will be operated daily.
He said: “These new routes will be operated with our ultramodern Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, and as we take delivery of more brand new E195-E2s as well as other aircraft undergoing maintenance abroad, we shall reinstate more routes and open up more connections..
He reiterated Air Peace’s resolve to providing peaceful and strategic connectivity, in line with its no-city-left-behind drive.
Air Peace recently resumed most of its regional routes which were suspended following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown that ensued last year. The airline has restored its Freetown, Banjul, Dakar, and Accra services.
Understanding Air Travellers Rights, Claims Limit - THISDAY
Ebere Nwoji writes on the risky nature of air transport, enormity of claims by air passengers and behavior of both airline and insurance operators in accident cases and calls for the need to sensitise passengers on their rights and the limit of their claims when crash occurs.
In the past seven months of this year, 2021, precisely the months of February, May and July, Nigeria’s air space has witnessed three major air mishaps involving military aircraft that claimed eminent people’s lives including the former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru who died at age 54 in a fatal plane crash which occurred on May 21,2021,four months after his appointment. Attahiru, died in the crash along 10 others including top military officers, aids and crew.
On February 22, Nigerian military plane, King Air350, took off from Abuja Airport but reported engine failure, according to media reports, while trying to return back to the airport on account of the failure, it exploded killing all seven people on board.
The two fatal crashes, if not that they involved military aircraft, would have required huge compensations in form of claims from insurance companies because of the status of the victims and the fact that aviation insurance is such a compulsory requirement that regulators hardly wink at in the discharge of their duties.
But military aircraft are not handled by insurance companies; rather, government takes care of the dependents of the deceased.
But this has not and cannot immune insurance operators from huge claims that emanate when commercial aircraft is involved in a crash.
For the commercial aircraft, claims from air crash is so enormous and often very controversial that it rakes up emotions and endangers the goodwill of the insurance companies involved if the compensation for the relatives of the victims of the accident is not well managed.
The claims are so huge that if the business is not adequately spread by the lead insurer among other insurers, the claim is capable of bringing down the insurance company, not withstanding its financial strength.
Where the victims are not adequately compensated, the criticism from the public is also capable of sending the airline operator out of business.
Expectations from Victims
Indeed, aviation insurance is one class of insurance business that has so much exposed the insurance sector and its operators to public criticism erroneously or constructively.
This is because aviation risk, when it occurred, attracts much public concern and sympathy. The public could be curious and anxious to know the outcome. The empathy it attracts is overwhelming. It appeals to people’s emotion who would want to know if the relatives of the victims of the crash are well compensated for the loss of the lives of their loved ones. In the case of fatal accidents, the relatives of deceased often inundate the airline operator and its insurers with huge claim filings.
Both the airline operator and the accident victims’ expectations on insurance company concerned are always very high. In the past, there has not been accident claim in Nigeria that was amicably settled. The settlements were usually dogged by controversy because of the high expectation of the relatives of the victims of the crash. But there are standard compensation enshrined in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations. But sometimes some relatives of the crash victims sue to kick against the claim, considered to be less than what could compensate for the death of their loved ones.
Regulation on Claims and Travellers Ignorance
Experts in aviation business said as emotional as any air mishap is, there are both local and international regulations that guide aviation insurance contract just like every other contract and these regulations cannot be violated in demanding for or paying for damages incurred during the course of air trip.
They noted that contrary to this, most times, when there is air crash, the passengers are ignorant of limit of their claims and quantum of claims, which the premium they paid can give to them.
Similarly, industry observers said in most cases, the insurance companies, take advantage of the ignorance of the passengers on their claims right to underpay them perhaps having charged very low premium from the airline operator in order to grab the business from other insurers racing for the same business.
According to the observers, the problem stems from the fact that air passengers, neglect reading these aviation insurance rules and regulations written at the back of their passenger tickets and the result is that when the unforeseen happens, argument follows either because the victims or their relatives in case of death are making wrong claims or some mischievous airline operators and their insurers want to take advantage of ignorance of the victims to short pay their claims.
Insurance experts said aviation insurance is one of the technical classes of insurance business.
According to them, it is so technical that insurance managers themselves regard it as not for all comers in the business and that requires well experienced, highly technical and thorough breed professionals who specialise in the business to handle it.
According to them, insurance claims and compensation is part of aviation business, which is mainly international in nature. Aviation insurance is effected in the international market more than any other branch of insurance.
“This is why knowledge of laws governing air transport and aviation insurance in various countries both locally (Nigeria) and internationally is important to keep abreast of changes in this class of business.
“People fly both locally and internationally and therefore the question now is in the event of loss or death of a passenger, which law will be applicable for purposes of jurisdiction,” one of the insurance experts who spoke to THISDAY asked.
They noted that since after the First World War, there was very rapid advancement in aeronautical engineering. According to them, today, the size and type of aircraft in operation is unimaginable.
They are of the view that the recent advances in aircraft manufactured today in terms of number of passengers, load carried and distances covered when compared to some 20 years ago is also unbelievable. This means that these aircraft are highly valued and therefore value at risk is when accident occurs is quite high.
The experts said there is therefore need for an insurer with a lot of financial strength to play in this class of business adding that even locally, strict regulations by the insurance regulator is in place for any operator that wants to participate in aviation business.
Here in Nigeria, among all the classes of insurance that are made compulsory for the protection of the third party’s interest, enforcement of aviation third party liability insurance is much more serious than any other of its sort.
The regulators are alive to their duties in this regard while government is much more interested in seeing the law obeyed to the last letter. This is because of risky nature of air transport and high premium associated with air travel, which is considered the safest means of moving from one place to another.
Industry observers noted that in Nigeria, after the tragic accidents involving two major passenger bound aircraft in 2005 and 2006, aviation industry regulators became much more critical in assessing insurance status of every aircraft that flies out of Nigerian airports.
They said the situation became tougher since January 1, 2013, when the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) began enforcement of ‘no premium no cover’ policy among insurance underwriters.
Airline Operators’ Effort
These have put airline operators in tight corner insurance in terms of obtaining insurance cover for their equipment.
Recent observations show that currently due to huge premium involved in aviation insurance and refusal by underwriters to grant cover on credit, airline operators buy their insurance cover monthly instead of annually. This has exposed them to risk of being grounded by their regulators once there is little mistake or omission in their aviation insurance.
Industry observers noted that this risk was almost suffered by Arik Air few years back when on account of a public holiday that delayed renewal of its insurances by one day after expiration, the airline was stopped from flying and the passengers discharged by the officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) until NAICOM confirmed that it has put its insurance package in order.
According to the observers, these strict regulations by both NCAA and NAICOM are put in place for security, safety and interest of the passengers,
Air crash Damages
A study of a number of air crashes that have occurred in recent past shows that often when it occurs it claims lives of all the passengers on board, including the cabin crew and at the same time causes damages to the ground where it crashes.
Insurance experts said insurance by its nature is there as a risk bearing mechanism that indemnifies victims of such huge losses as losses from plane crash is usually so huge that no airline can bear it alone.
According to the experts, even among the insurers who bear the risk, no insurance firm singly carries any aviation risk.
They said the risks are undertaken by the lead insurer who shares it among some other insurers tagged co-insurers, each taking according to its retention capacity while the excess is insured abroad.
According to them, both the lead insurer and the co-insurers also reinsure the risk with indigenous and foreign reinsurers. These are done to ensure that in the event of risk occurrence, claims are contributed by all who participated in the business to ensure that victims are adequately indemnified.
According to the observers, most times, claims from air crash is of two fold as the insurance companies involved are not only paying for damages incurred by the passengers but also those of ground victims where the accident occurred. Findings
THISDAY observed that in the past, and even at present, where airlines fail to get their insurances right, they often play on the ignorance of the passengers on their rights to adequate compensation and they underpay the relatives of the victims of the accident because even the victims themselves, if they were alive, were often ignorant of their insurance rights let alone their relatives.
This being the case, airline operators and their insurance companies often take advantage of ignorance of the passengers on their legal insurance rights to shirk the claims or what to pay, eventually the passengers’ relatives are poorly compensated.
Findings by THISDAY also showed that in most of the plane crashes that occurred in Nigeria in recent past, only few of the airline operators and their insurance companies can today, lift up their faces to say that the victims received adequate compensation as in each case, you still hear relatives of the victims grumbling after receiving claims from the insurance companies. Some of these complaints were right some were wrong.
For instance, findings by THISDAY revealed that relatives of 96 victims of Sosoliso Airlines flight 1145 flying from Abuja to Port Harcourt in 2005 which crashed 15 minutes to landing were poorly compensated by the insurance companies concerned.
According to the insurance experts, whereas legally, passengers on board a crashed aircraft is entitled to minimum of $100,000 claims payable to relatives of dead victims, the 96 passengers on board the Sosoliso crashed plane were all together paid N100 million claims. The legally stipulated figure due to each victim, if converted to Naira at the prevailing exchange rate of Naira to dollar then is far above the N100 million paid to the relatives of the 96 passengers on board the crashed plane.
Commenting on this, aviation insurance expert, Sunny Adeda, who was also former president of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) blamed this on the failure by the airline to adequately insure the aircraft.
He also blamed it on the regulator, which failed to ensure that the airline’s insurance certificate was up to standard then.
He however said today, the situation has improved with the passage of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2006 into law, which now empowers airline passengers to boldly ask the operator about their insurance status.
He further said the enforcement of no premium no cover insurance law by NAICOM has to a reasonable extent helped to compel airline operators to get their insurances right.
On its part, the NCAA, after the enactment of the 2006 Act, which obviously was facilitated by the uproar among aviation stake holders against federal government on account of the two plane crashes recorded by the country within two months in 2005, has girded itself to ensure that no aircraft lifts passengers from Nigerian airports without adequate insurance cover.
Given this effort, records have shown that since then no passenger bound plane crash involving such crowd of people has been recorded except the military helicopter associated airline helicopter and Bristow helicopters that crashed few years back.
As the regulators and airline operators try to put their houses in order regarding adequate regulations and insurances to ensure that passengers are adequately covered, the importance of passengers on board aircraft to get adequate information on their rights before embarking on any trip cannot be overemphasised. Insurance Information and Passenger Behaviour
Airline ticket attendants said every information on passengers’ rights, conditions for travel including insurance cover and the insurance legislation under which the airline insured the aircraft is written at the back of the tickets including passengers cargoes and insurance liabilities.
They however regretted that passengers hardly take time to read these.
According to them, the result is that in the event of air mishap, or even misplacement of luggage, some of the claims made by the passengers especially in case of misplaced or delayed luggage arrival are not covered by the contract stated at the back of passengers ticket and when the claims are not paid as demanded, the passengers involved begin to grumble.
They cited the case of the crashed plane, saying that often relatives of passengers on board the plane assemble for compensation and when the airline operator concentrate on settling only the passengers in the manifest while ignoring any other person who may have entered the flight either by exchanging his tickets, the relatives will begin to grumble because of lack of adequate information. But such incident doesn’t occur anymore because no passenger can board a flight in Nigeria without his name appearing in the manifest.
Defenses by Air Passenger Carriers
Enquiries by THISDAY showed that there are defenses available to the airline when air accident happens. There is no liability if the carrier proves his servant or agent took all necessary measures to avoid the damage or that it was impossible for him or them to take such measures. Carrier proves contributory negligence on the part of the injured person. Time barred, that is no right of action lies two years after the date of arrival at the destination or date of accident. If the airline proves that the loss or damage did not occur on the aircraft or in the course of the operations of embarking or disembarking. However, the carrier is still liable at common law if he is shown to have been negligent.
Findings also show that some deviant airline operators vehemently insure their aircraft abroad despite the local content law. Reasons given by such airline operators is that aviation insurance premium in Nigeria is highest in the world. But Managing Director, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance and former Managing Director Nigeria Insurers Association, Mr. Eddie Efekoha, faulted this claim saying such airline operators failed to put into consideration the level of insecurity in Nigeria airports, including the roughness of the runways which are capable of causing frequent air crashes.
He said the security of Nigerian airports when compared to those other countries the airline operators run to obtain their insurances is nothing to write home about. However, insurers say premium is determined by the operating environment of the aircraft.
He said considering the level of insecurity in Nigerian airports, Nigerian insurers are charging less. He said aviation passengers in Nigeria should be patience and careful enough to find out insurance status of aircraft they board before embarking on any trip.
The findings also revealed that what such airline operators who obtain their insurance abroad do when accident occurs is to underpay the victims. It was also discovered that often they go free because NAICOM has no power to compel the foreign insurer to pay adequate claims to the victims’ relatives. This was exactly what happened when one of the aircraft of Associated Aviation Limited crashed.
Efforts by THISDAY to ascertain how the victims were compensated did not yield result, as the airline was not ready to open up on its insurance status and claims payment and when NAICOM was approached, the commission said the airline was insured abroad therefore it lacked powers to compel the foreign insurer to pay claims.
Air Passengers’ Rights and Basic Covers
Against this backdrop, it has become necessary for aviation passengers to know their rights while boarding any aircraft as well as various insurance covers the airline operators supposed to put in place before leaving the shores of any country they are operating in.
According to aviation experts, the passengers have the right to reject any airline that ignored the local content law and decides to insure abroad knowing well that in the event of any thing, Nigerian regulators have no power over the foreign insurers.
Unfortunately, passengers are such in hurry that they hardly care until the unforeseen happens.
Aviation sector watchers said the basic covers in aviation insurance which every airline operator suppose to put in place for its passengers are: Passenger and Passenger baggage Legal Liability Insurance This type of cover is effected by an airline to protect itself against any sum or sums, which it would be liable to pay in respect of any accidental bodily injury/Death/Loss of baggage to any person being a passenger and holding a ticket.
These liabilities, apply when the person is entering into, is being carried in or is alighting from the aircraft. The insurer indemnifies the insured against all sums he is legally liable to pay whether according to international law or local legislation.
Subject to a maximum limit of liability agreed at inception of the policy. They said standard exclusions include the crew, which are normally covered under a separate policy.
Third Party Legal Liability
This is effected by an aircraft operator to indemnify himself against all sums the insured would become legally liable to pay in respect of accidental injury/death or accidental property damage to third parties or to the public caused directly by the aircraft or falling of objects there from.
The limit of liability is usually agreed at inception of the policy.
Various countries have set minimum limit for aircraft that would overfly their air space. This type of insurance is sometimes referred to as public legal liability insurance.
This insurance normally indemnifies an operator for loss or damage (including delays) to goods shipped by the company.
The document under which the goods are transported is called the Airway Bill (AWB). Acceptance of cargo with a poorly executed airway bill or incomplete can impose unlimited liability on the carrier.
These liabilities were established at various global conventions instituted by international aviation committees for international trip but have been adopted by various countries for their domestic operations some of the liabilities regimes were adopted from agreements at conventions such as Warsaw Convention 1929,the Hague Protocol 1955,Montreal Agreement 1966,Montreal Protocols 1,2,4 1975, IATA Inter Carrier Agreement, Montreal Convention 1999, European Legislation, National Law e.g. NCAA.
Aviation experts said the purpose of the regime/Convention is for the unification of certain rules of international carriage by airline operators.
Aviation manager in Nigeria told THISDAY that regulators mainly adopt the Montreal convention 1999 regime for international flights while currently, the NCAA Act 2006, is used as legislation regulating local flights. According to them, under this, the minimum combined single liability insurance (CSL) for domestic operations are clearly stated by the insurers and their airline clients.
For instance, NCAA act prescribes for loss of baggage claim at $20 per kilo. The total weight multiply by $20 gives the maximum liability for unchecked luggage it is limited to 10kg maximum liability.
The managers said usually, items of value e.g. cameras, telecoms equipment and others are valued separately and All Risk Insurance is taken to cover loss or damages.
They also said claims for temporary loss of baggage necessitating purchase of essential clothes; toilet articles others for use until the mislaid baggage is recovered are usually accepted by insurers.
They however said the carrier has unlimited liability if it is established that the carrier failed to issue a properly completed baggage check or there has been willful misconduct on the part of the carrier or his employees. Conclusion
Apparently, knowledge and awareness of these will equip an average traveller from Nigeria on his insurance rights and enable him or her get his claims rights in the event of the unforeseen.
It will as well equip every Nigeria with the right knowledge to make claims when the unforeseen that took the life of his relative happens.
But since this has not been the case because of passengers’ continued neglect of information at the back of their tickets, industry watchers said insurers and their aviation clients should take up the responsibility of educating the public on their insurance rights especially on the need to read the rules on insurance written at the back of their air passenger tickets.
The passengers have been advised not to see the information at the back of their ticket as mere fulfillment of righteousness but to see it as readable document that will keep them abreast of their rights as aircraft passenger. The Passengers are even advised to share this information with their family members for knowledge sake to equip them with knowledge of their rights when the unforeseen happens.
The travel recovery has started, Britain's Heathrow Airport says - REUTERS
LONDON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Britain's Heathrow Airport said that passenger numbers surged in July as the government eased travel restrictions and a recovery was underway, but warned that overall numbers were still down 80% on pre-pandemic levels as many barriers remain.
Heathrow said that in July over 1.5 million travellers passed through the airport, making it the busiest month since March 2020, just before COVID-19 lockdowns began in Europe and travel was essentially stopped.
The airport, the busiest in Britain, and before COVID-19 the busiest in Europe, said that the government needed to do more to help travel return to even close to 2019 levels.
Heathrow and airlines like British Airways (ICAG.L) have criticised Britain for not easing travel restrictions quickly enough despite its fast vaccine roll-out, and for complicated rules which continue to include expensive coronavirus tests.
They want to see the cost of testing reduced and more countries added to the government's list of low risk countries. Heathrow also called on Britain and the United States to reach an agreement to allow Britons to travel to the U.S.
Last month, the government allowed fully vaccinated Britons to travel to medium risk countries without needing to quarantine on return, boosting passenger numbers by 74% compared to July last year.
Britain has since early August opened its borders to fully-vaccinated people from the U.S. and European Union.
Heathrow added that U.S. carrier JetBlue was due to start flying between London and New York later this week, in a sign of growing confidence in travel.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge
Delta’s Spread From Sydney Triggers Another Australian Lockdown - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus from Sydney into regional areas of New South Wales state -- which had 344 cases on Wednesday -- has forced another Australian city into lockdown.
Dubbo, a city of about 50,000 people some 240 miles from Sydney, is the latest to have stay-at-home orders enforced for at least one week after two cases of the infectious variant were detected, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. Meanwhile Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, extended its lockdown for another week.
“Over the last two days we have seen a surge in the number of cases and we expect that to continue,” Berejiklian said after the state detected a record 356 delta cases the day before. There were two new fatalities in the state on Wednesday, with at least 17 of the new infections recorded in its regional areas.
Dubbo joins Sydney -- Australia’s largest city with almost 6 million people -- which has so far failed to bend the curve of new cases despite enforcing stay-at-home orders for more than six weeks. In the past week, cities including Newcastle, Byron Bay and Tamworth also entered snap lockdowns after being exposed to delta, isolating them from the rest of the nation.
Melbourne recorded 20 new cases in the community on Wednesday. It will stay in lockdown for at least another seven days beyond Thursday, when the stay-at-home orders were due to lift. The city is in the midst of its sixth lockdown since the pandemic began.
The lockdowns in the nation’s two largest cities along with an increasing number of regional areas show the delta variant of the coronavirus is placing increased pressure on Australia’s so-called “Covid Zero” strategy. The outbreaks are also having an economic impact, with gross domestic product expected to contract this quarter.
Before the emergence of delta fueled infections, the nation used strict border controls and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus. Now, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in a race to ramp up a tardy vaccine rollout in a bid to start reopening international borders next year.
According to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, just 18% of Australians have received two shots -- among the lowest levels in the developed world.
Morrison says his government’s vaccine rollout is picking up pace and all adults will be offered an inoculation this year. In the meantime, Australians remain vulnerable to snap lockdowns, even as nations such as the U.S. and U.K. have largely opened up with more than half their populations fully vaccinated.
In Sydney, Berejiklian had previously indicated that some restrictions in the city may ease by the end of this month should full adult vaccination rates reach 70% and case numbers are brought under control.
On Wednesday, she said such a scenario was now unlikely.
“September and October will be challenging months in terms of public policy, how we move forward, because we wouldn’t have reached the 70%,” she said. A vaccination rate of 70% would mean “life will look very different to what it does today.”