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Air Traffic Controllers Lament Decay In Aviation Sector

Air Traffic Controllers Lament Decay In Aviation Sector

Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) have decried the dilapidating state of aviation infrastructure, warning that that it is dangerous to the safety of civil aviation in Nigeria.

Speaking at the 46th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigeria Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) held in Uyo, the air traffic controllers lamented the collapse of aviation facilities in some airports as well shortage of safety personnel in the sector and called for a holistic action plan to address the problems.

To ensure total compliance with international best practices, the President of NATCA, Mr. Victor Eyaru, pointed out that much still needed to be done to avoid air accident in the sector.

He drew the Federal Government’s attention to the begging questions of fixing the burnt Control Towers at the Kaduna and Maiduguri airports, stressing: “these facilities need to be fixed as soon as possible”.

According to him, the closure of the taxiway Bravo at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, poses a serious concern as he noted that “the closure of the facility for over ten years had led to the reduction of the capacity of the aerodrome as well as making it impossible for aircraft to do their normal engine runs at the compass wing”.

He maintained that the continued closure of the taxiway has led to mounting pressure on controllers, while separating aircrafts on the ground, adding that the lighting problem on runway 18L/36R, in Lagos must be addressed for smooth aviation businesses in Nigeria.

Eyaru, who made as case for air traffic workers’ welfare to be addressed, said they would not hesitate to be part of the union’s struggle for better packages if called out by the parent union, the Air Transport Services’ Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, who spoke during the event also stressed the importance of air safety in Nigeria and called on the Federal Government to fix the problems.

He explained that NAMA has embarked on immediate reforms in the sector through interventions in the areas of personnel and infrastructural upgrade.

He listed areas  of interventions to includes the Aerodrome/Approach Control, Area/Airways Procedural Control as well as Area/Terminal Approach Radar courses “which has been very elusive in the past”, but currently ongoing at Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.

He said NAMA has also embarked on several training programmes to ensure safety standards remain at the level best in the industry.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who was represented by the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkutu, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government places much premium on air safety and urged the conferees to come up with workable recommendations that would address safety challenges in the sector.

“The administration under President Muhammadu Buhari, places high premium on the safety and security of our airspace, as one of the critical enablers of the Government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)”, he said.

He assured that the administration was working to ensure the aviation system meets every safety standards in line with the recommendations of the international regulatory agency, ICAO.

 

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