Nigerian air traffic controllers cry for radar equipment backup

Nigerian air traffic controllers cry for radar equipment backup

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 3:19 pm

Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos

Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos

Funsho Balogun

The Nigeria Air Traffic Controllers Association, NATCA has raised a red flag concerning the radar equipment that presently serves air traffic controllers in carrying out their duty. The Association has cried out that since the equipment has no backup, despite being installed 10 years ago, its failure would mean the total collapse of air traffic control services.

The Association’s President, Victor Eyaru , and the Secretary General, Banji Olawode have disclosed that the radar equipment presently on ground would outlive its lifespan soon. Yet, there are no signs that any effort is being made towards a replacement to forestall a possible breakdown of services and the attendant implications.

The Air Traffic Controllers Association claimed that while it has always supported attempts by the federal government to ensure that the aviation sector sticks to best practices, the reward usually comes in the form of attacks. Although the association has made earlier attempts to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to the need for a backup, such efforts have failed to yield results, and the proponents have faced intimidation and attacks.

NATCA says the fraud exposed through the recent visit of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, is shocking and proof that corruption has taken over in the aviation sector. It called on the EFCC to also beam its searchlight on other failed projects in NAMA such as the Total VHF coverage of Nigeria. NATCA suggests that such investigations should be extended into the affairs of other aviation agencies.

The Association has also drawn government’s attention to another fraudulent practice within NAMA carried out in the form of duplication of departments/directorates and the creation of irrelevant departments and offices across the agencies.

“Appointment of non-qualified persons to man sensitive positions has encouraged fraud and reduced productivity. Most of the agencies in the sector have bloated staff strength, skewed towards the less productive departments,” a statement from NATCA reveals. According to the statement, NAMA currently boasts seven directorates with eight directors as against the original three directorates. The statement also says that the agency, which has air traffic control service as its core function, has only about 11 per cent of its employees being air traffic controllers as against between 45 and 70 per cent for other similar air navigation service providers globally.

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