The Nigeria Air Traffic Controllers Association NATCA has called for more funding of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA by the Federal Government in order to reduce the agency’s financial burden in training technical staff .
The National President,NATCA, Mr. Abayomi Agoro who made this in an interview with aviation journalists in Lagos while highlighting the importance of world Air Traffic Controllers Day and its forthcoming Annual General Meeting AGM, said the navigation systems had been improved and working at optimal capacity, what was needed now was more funds from government to compliment that of NAMA for the training of all technical professionals in the system.
According to Agoro, “I don’t want government to leave everything in the hands of NAMA alone. For example, we trying to let government understand that there is need to give NAMA additional funds to train not only air traffic controllers but all the technical professionals in the agency whereby maybe they should get some allocation from BASA fund, there is need for human capital development and NAMA alone cannot shoulder the responsibility, so I feel the government should do that maybe by allocating a special fund dedicated for training mostly the technical staff”.
He said the special dedicated fund for training for mostly technical staff would further enhance safety.
Agoro urged the government to increase the retirement age of Air Traffic Controllers from the current 60 years to 65 years in order to give room for newly recruited ones to catch up from the old hands before leaving the system.
“What ICAO stipulated the is about 700 air traffic controllers and as at that time, I don’t think we have up to 27 airports and airfield as we have right now and some states are still trying to build new airports so, it means that the less than 350 air traffic controllers is inadequate and we also try as much as possible to tell the government to increase the retirement age of air traffic controllers from 60 to 65 in order that it can bring a kind of balance”.
He noted that the number of ATC’s in the country were not enough to man various airports across the country but commended the management of NAMA for recruiting more ATC’s in recent years saying that the country’s airspace remained one of the safest in the world.
The NATCA President called on airlines to work assiduously with the Association by partnering them as this was the only way to move the aviation industry forward.
According to Agoro, aviation remained one of the key areas to improve on the GDP of the country noting that the country with its mineral and human endowment would beat Ethiopia and other countries surviving on aviation if aviation was well managed in the country.
On the challenges facing the ATC’s, the NATCA boss enumerated radio communications, surveillance systems and training and retraining as their major challenge but expressed the hope that with the AIS automation soon this would ease the problem of communication.
On the forthcoming AGM Agoro said,”This year’s event is the 40th for the Air Traffic Controller which is taking place in Kano, the venue of the event is the Bristow Palace, it is a two day event, the Executive Governor of the State will be the speal guest of honour, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, we have the Chairman of the occasion, distinguished senator Ibrahin Shakarau who was the former Governor of the State, we have our honorable Minister who have been doing very well, Senator Hadi Sirika who is going to give us the keynote address.”
According to him, other expected dignitaries include Dr. Mohammadu Sanusi ll who will be the Royal Father of the Day while guest Lecturers, include Rtd Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, Former Chief of Air Staff, Prof Sanni Mashi, DG NiMET, Captain Ado Sanusi who has been a friend of the House, NAMA Director, Operations, Mr.Mathew Lawrence Pwajok.
The theme for this year’s AGM is: Air Traffic Management and the Safety of Air Navigation Services in Nigeria and will hold between October 24th and 25th in Kano.