Lagos — Eight years after, the metallurgical science laboratory of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) is still left to rot away in Abuja as it has not been put to use.
The facility, built at a cost of N600m, was meant to analyse aircraft crash and it can also serve university students, and institutions offering courses in material and metallurgical science.
AIB Commissioner/CEO, Engr. Akin Olateru, said one of the greatest constraints facing the laboratory is the Abuja-Kaduna train which passes through the laboratory.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly is seeking the relocation of the facility to ensure it is utilized and to save tax payers' money.
This emerged at the weekend when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation visited AIB headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos where they rounded off a weeklong oversight visit of the aviation sector.
Our correspondent reports that AIB has moved to commercialise the laboratory by making it available to universities to conduct their researches instead of going abroad for such facility spending huge foreign exchange.
It wrote 12 universities offering related courses but only two - University of Ilorin and University of Lagos - responded with memoranda of understanding signed.
Olateru stressed that the facility is not only for the agency but for the benefit of researchers and students of higher learning.
According to him, prior to the acquisition of the laboratory, AIB usually sent flight analysis to Singapore.
He said, "Accident investigation is complex. What we have done is to send our investigators to Singapore and other places for training. The material science laboratory which contract was awarded about three, four years ago, some equipment were bought but unfortunately, most of them are still in cartons."
The AIB commissioner said the organisation requires additional funding to meet its statutory responsibilities, adding that its operational scope extends to other modes of transportation.
Daily Trust reports that a bill is before the National Assembly to amend the AIB Act to empower it to investigate other modes of transportation, like rail, road, among others.
Olateru said the agency relied on three per cent only from Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) in accordance with the Civil Aviation Act of 2006.
The chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, promised to assist AIB realise its objective of safer airspace by allocating more funds to the agency.
"We will do everything possible to support AIB. Your agency is doing extremely well. We are impressed with your capacity building for other nations, " he said.
On the metallurgical science laboratory, the lawmaker added: "I think the building can be relocated."