The Ministry of Transport and Communication and the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) have been accused of treating International Aviation Solution (IAS) with kid gloves following a plane crash and near collision by trainees at the school.
Insiders at both the Ministry and the authority believe that the school’s aircraft fleet should have been grounded pending investigations. IAS, whose Director is Thatayaone Seduke, was given tenders by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) running into tens of millions of Pula under controversial circumstances.
At the time of going to press, Seduke had not responded to a questionnaire sent to him by this publication. Sunday Standard has established that before the aircraft crash incident, the same aircraft was in close proximity with yet another aircraft, from the same school while both were still airborne. This publication was unable to establish if there were injuries sustained by the trainee pilots who crashed the plane or not.
However insiders say that despite advice by some experts that the incident should be treated with the seriousness it deserves as it involved an aircraft, the Ministry treated the matter as an accident. When contacted for comment, CAAB spokesperson Modipe Nkwe said “Your questions relate to Aviation Accident which rests with the Directorate of Accident Investigations at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.”
Responding to Sunday Standard queries, the Ministry’s spokesperson Titi Nyadza confirmed that on 2nd August 2015, a student pilot from International Aviation Solution (IAS) on a solo flight was involved in a landing incident.
“This was a PA-28 aircraft, registered A2-AJG. The site investigation revealed that the aircraft touched down and lifted off before coming to finally land and veer off to the left of Runway 26, resting some few meters outside the Runway,” said Nyadza. She added that the Directorate of Accident Investigation (DAI) is continuing with investigations.
Nyadza also confirmed that during the course of investigation, “it was reported that earlier on the same aircraft was in close proximity with yet another one (Cessna C207 aircraft, registered A2-SKY) from the same school while both were still airborne.”
She said the investigations will look into the incident and establish what circumstances could have led its occurrence, as well as whether there was any correlation between the incident and the landing incident. Asked why any action was not taken against the school or why its aircrafts were not grounded pending investigations, Nyadza said “according to Section 3.1 of ICAO Annex 13 and Section 75 (1) of the Civil Aviation Act No. 11 of 2011, the purpose of investigations is prevention of accidents and incidents; it is not the purpose of investigation to apportion blame or liability.”
She added that “What DAI does is to gather facts, analyse them and draw up conclusions as to what happened, how it happened and why, as far as it can possibly be established, and propose safety recommendations, with a view to preventing similar occurrences in future.”
Early this year Sunday Standard reported that the Ministry had thrown out advice from its own experts that it should not enrol students with IAS, instead giving the institution business estimated at P50 million. Documents passed to the Sunday Standard have revealed that senior officials at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development have turned a blind eye to advice from the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) and the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) not to sponsor students for courses offered at International Aviation Solutions (IAS).
According to a savingram seen by Sunday Standard from acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (support service), a certain Mothetho to officials at Department of Tertiary Education and Financing (DTEF), Seduke had appealed a decision by the department not to sponsor students for courses offered at his school. The savingram shows that senior officials at the ministry’s headquarters upheld Seduke’s appeal and directed that he should be allocated students in batches.
Communication between senior officials at the Ministry’s headquarters and DTEF suggests that Seduke had demanded that he be allocated at least 75 students. Replying to Seduke’s appeal, the savingram states that the students should enrol at the school in three batches (25 students to be enrolled per a year) and the total should be 75 students. HRDC is reported to have pointed out that the school does not have the capacity to enrol such a considerable number of students. They also argued that the job market for the courses offered at the school was saturated and the program of study is also not a national priority.
It also emerged from documents seen by this publication that junior officials at DTEF were against Seduke’s suggestion that the ministry should make a once-off payment for the students enrolled at his school instead of payment being made per cycle of sponsorship (or semester). The documents further revealed that International Aviation Solutions has also attracted the attention of Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) who want the school to address issues relating to training license and accreditation of courses.