Botswana and Zambia have signed Search and Rescue letters of agreement allowing the two countries to conform to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and requirements to ensure aviation safety.
The signing agreement has been one of long awaited requirements for Botswana in complying with ICAO Standards and practices in the sub region as regards search and rescue near or along the common borders in order to timely save human life.
ICAO requires neighbouring states to have bilateral signed agreements addressing the responsibilities of each state when an aircraft is in need of assistance under emergency situations. This is in line with article 25 of the convention on the International Civil Aviation of 1944.
The agreement will enable the two states to become aware that the personnel of spacecrafts or aircrafts are in distress and must notify country of origin.
“If distress occurs in an area that is beyond the territory of any nation, then any state that is in a position to do so will extend assistance in the search and rescue operation,” said Nonofo Molefhi, the Minister of Transport and Communications.
It is the obligation of contracting states ICAO to provide measures of assistance to aircrafts in distress and notify countries of origin. The 2006 audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization found that Botswana did not have search and rescue agreements with most of her neighbours.
Molefhi said the agreement will provide coordination of search and rescue services in Botswana to meet domestic needs and international requirements.
He said it is his expectation that the two states liaise and establish joint technical teams whose responsibility will be to effectuate search and rescue operations in the two neighbouring countries.
Periodic reports will be made available to the two governments to ensure adherence to standards and procedures of the ICAO. He said plans are underway to sign similar agreements with Zimbabwe and Namibia.