NATCA Backs FG Corruption War, Restructuring Of Aviation Agencies
…Alleges TRACON Has No Back Up
…No Navigational Equipment Is Working Optimally
…Asks EFCC To Extend Probe Total VHF Coverage Of Nigeria
The Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has thrown its weight behind efforts by the Federal Government to sanitise the aviation industry of impunity and corrupt practices bedeviling the industry for some years now.
NATCA’s support is coming in a statement jointly signed by the National President Victor Eyaru and the General Secretary Olawode Banji and made available to journalists in Lagos.
The duo in the statement stated that the recent revelation from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission’s (EFCCs) visit to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) was shocking and that it was an attestation to the endemic nature of the unfortunate practice.
They added that sadly, NATCAs have continuously discharge their all -important and safety critical duties with epileptic equipment of which communication at the two Area Control Centres in Kano and Lagos were mostly affected.
They further said that the nations radar equipment; Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria(TRACON), after close to 10 years of its installation, has no backup to cater for period of failure, adding that the existing radar equipment has almost outlived its designed lifespan and requires replacement.
According to them, “No navigational equipment is at its best as well. Efforts of NATCA and its members to see to fixing of these problems over the years only earned the Air Traffic Controllers various attacks and name calling. Unfortunately, a lot of fund may have been allocated to fixing the unresolved challenges.”
They pointed out that worthy of mention was the deliberate depriving of ATCs mandatory training since 2012 by continually arrogating such to lack of fund or approval and that this has reduced the capacity of the available ATCs to effectively provide various services such as the newly introduced 24-hour Area Radar Service and Performance Based Navigation (PBN).
NATCA stated that another area of fraud urgently deserving the attention of government is in the duplication of department, directorates and creation of irrelevant departments/offices across the agencies, adding that appointment of non-qualified persons to man sensitive positions has also encouraged fraud and reduced productivity.
According to NATCA, “Most of the agencies have over-bloated staff strength skewed towards the less productive departments. An example is that of NAMA having seven directorates with eight directors as against the original three directorates. The same agency, with 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(ANSP) globally.”
NATCA stated that due to the sensitivity and peculiarity of NAMA as an Air Navigation Service Provider, pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigations or appointment of a substantive Managing Director, the Federal government should immediately appoint, in acting capacity, a competent person equally qualified to be appointed as Managing Director in accordance with the provision of NAMA Establishment Act No.48 Part IV section 8 subsection 2(d) of 1999,which states that a person who possesses relevant and adequate professional qualifications in a senior management cadre and shall have been so qualified for a period of not less than fifteen years.
This, the association stated would stem the ongoing leadership crisis due to appointment of two persons as Acting Managing Director within a week and in the interest of air safety, adding that NAMA is a very strategic agency that should not be headed by anyone without both technical knowledge and proven administrative expertise in ANSP under whatever circumstance to avoid any costly decision that could compromise air safety and spell disaster for the whole country.
The EFCC, NATCA said should ensure that all the siphoned monies by those involved and their cronies are recovered and returned to the coffers of NAMA and that thereafter, the guilty should be punished according to the law so as to serve as deterrent to others.
They also called on the EFCC to extend such probe/investigation to some failed projects in NAMA such as the Total VHF coverage of Nigeria as well as other aviation agencies, rationalise all the agencies directorates, departments/units and staff strength to reflect the original intention of government for creating them and to reposition them for efficiency and approve employment of more hands in the technical areas where there are shortages.
The group stated that ATCs were worst hit in this area with only about half of the needed manpower available within NAMA, an agency with over-bloated staff strength.
They also called for urgent approval for the replacement of the available TRACON before its expiration period and provision of reliable Pilot-Controller and Controller-Controller communication facilities at all the Air Traffic Control Units to enhance air safety.