Aviation sector needs urgent attention – Senate committee

Aviation sector needs urgent attention - Senate committee
Hadi Sirika, Minister of State, Aviation

 The Senate Committee on Aviation says the industry needs a total restructuring as it is plagued with problems that have defied solutions over the years.

At an interactive session with the heads of various agencies in the industry in Lagos on Monday during a visit to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority headquarters, the Vice-Chairman of the committee, Senator Bala Na’Allah, said stakeholders had failed to play their roles as required.

He said, “We must accept the fact that the industry is in trouble; we have reached a stage where we need to tell ourselves the truth.

“We all have not done our duties properly and we have lived in self-denial, which has brought us to where we are.”

Na’Allah called for a restructuring of the entire industry.

The committee also raised the alarm over the poor radio communication between Air Traffic Controllers and pilots in the country’s airspace.

Na’Allah said pilots had been complaining about difficulties in communication and that the challenge had remained unresolved, adding that smaller countries such as Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic, had long gone past some of the issues still confronting Nigeria’s aviation industry.

“Niamey, for instance has a very good radio communication between pilots and the ATCs. Why has Nigeria’ radio communication remained poor despite the money the Federal Government has invested in it?” he queried.

He added that a lot of things had gone wrong because stakeholders had failed to play their roles in growing the industry.

“Navigational aids work elsewhere in Ghana, Benin and other places; why are they not working here? We want to know in the last six years what we have invested in radio frequency,” he said.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Mr. Emmanuel Anasi, said that the agency needed more funds to fix all the problems identified by the Senate committee.

He said that some of the equipment needed both software and hardware upgrade, which was capital intensive.

On the controversial Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria, Anasi said that the radar was working but needed to be upgraded.

He stated that the agency’s problems were compounded by the debt owed by airlines, some of which had become moribund.

 “To stop them from further indebtedness to NAMA, we now ask them to pay in advance if they must fly,” he said.

The Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, said the problems in the sector were compounded by dwindling capacity of the airlines to handle passengers due to aviation fuel scarcity and lack of equipment.

“We need to put certain things in place to enable the airlines operate so they generate funds to pay for services,” he said.

Dunoma also informed the committee that the agency was in the process of renovating the runways at the Abuja, Akure and Enugu airports.

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