By Chuks Okoh
Air traffic controllers under the umbrella of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) have issued a 21 day ultimatum to the management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
The group in a communiqué jointly signed by President and General Secretary of NATCA, Victor Eyaru and Banji Olawode respectively, issued at the end of its 43rd annual general meeting/conference held in Kano State at the weekend further demanded that all outstanding, unresolved and/or pending issues regarding Air Traffic Controllers’ remuneration, professional allowances and promotion/advancement in NAMA should be attended to within 21 days with effect from November 3, 2014.
Meanwhile, NAMA said 40 ATC will undergo a 2 day theory and 5 days practical in Egypt this month while another 5 will be train on wind shed equipment cited in 5 different locations in Nigeria by December.
Speaking at the NATCA AGM, Managing Director of NAMA, Ibrahim Abdulsalam the management is sending the ATC on DBN training as part of urgent measures to bridge the inadequate manpower gap in air traffic control in Nigeria.
The MD, who was represented by the Director of Operations Edward Ogedegbe said “The new management is taking training serious, a few days from now 4 groups of 10 ATCOs will be train in the first instance in Cairo, another set of 5 persons will go to Germany next month”.
The threat by NATCA to go on strike to press for their demands is usually taken seriously by NAMA because the controllers have the capacity to ground flight operations nationwide because of the sensitive services they provide.
Additionally, the controllers requested for the review of the allowances of their members working at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT),Zaria, stressing that it has been waiting for approval at the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission since 2010.
They urged that the allowances be released for implementation within the same time frame; failure of which they threatened would make the group to be left with no other option than to act within legitimate means recognized by labour law to press home these demands.
They equally vowed to resist alleged plan by NAMA management to appoint non-air traffic controller as Airspace Manager at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, describing it as absurd and unacceptable to the generality of Air Traffic Controllers.
“In addition, NATCA demands that the headship of all stations be reverted to Air Traffic Controllers”.
The duo lauded the efforts of NCAT at improving on its training facilities such as virtual tower and radar simulators. It however opposed the deployment of the radar simulators outright for the training of ATCOs in radar control until the equipment has been deployed to carry out radar refresher courses to allow for proper appraisal of both the equipment and manpower.
“Consequent upon this, the training of terminal and Area radar should be allowed to continue at other ICAO recognised training institutions outside the country to avoid worsening the already critical manpower situation”.
They appealed that sufficient and timely training and re-training should be given to all controllers to remedy the grossly inadequate, abridged and inconclusive form of training being experienced over time which serves as threats to air safety.
Meanwhile, the NATCA has taken a swipe at the Synagogue Church of all Nation as over their claims on the collapse of their building.
President of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association, NATCA Victor Eyaru described as unacceptable the information by the church located in Ikotun in Lagos that the building caved in moments after a mysterious aircraft hovered around the building undergoing construction.
The association also said it fully identifies with the calls for the speedy action in the establishment of a National Carrier for Nigeria, been the most populous nation in Africa to further boost the country’s economy.
A section of the Synagogue Church Building collapse took place on Friday, 12th of September, 2014 when a guesthouse located within the Synagogue church premises around Ikotun-Egbe area of Lagos State collapsed completely to the ground.
Eyaru, in his address at the 43rd annual general meeting of NATCA in Kano said the collapse should not be link to any air traffic and the misinformation to the public stopped forthwith.
He said ” we want to state categorically that where the church is located is not part of either restricted or prohibited airspace where air traffic cannot take place”.
“The aircraft in question was undertaking normal aviation practice in accordance to prescribed procedures and any link to the building collapse is absurd, laughable and acceptable”.
With the theme “human capacity building in the aviation industry as a remedy to air disaster” Eyaru said capacity building in the industry very much desirable because it is based on advance science and technology.He said the aspiration of the country to commence the implementation of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) within the nation’s airspace is highly commended as it will launch Nigeria into the next generation of satellite based air navigation.
NATCA in its communique said the establishment of a national carrier will reduce capital flight, provide more jobs in the sector and gives Nigeria a befitting identified in global air transport.