Controllers scarcity  hits NAMA, converts non technical staff for critical jobs

  • Recalls retired workers amid manpower deficiency
  • FG approves funds for safe tower
The dearth of air traffic controllers and other factors may have exposed the manpower deficiency in Nigeria’s airspace management (NAMA).
Consequently, the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu said in a bid to address the issue of shortage of air traffic controllers, the agency “converted non-technical staff in the system to technical staff while most of the retired ATCs were also engaged after their retirement”.
 Akinkoutu made the disclosure in his remark at the 50th Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in Abuja.
NAMA MD, Capt. Folayele Akinkuotu
He disclosed that his agency was worried over the death rate recorded among controllers in the last few years in the country saying that the management was alive to its responsibility in areas of workers’ welfare.
Akinkoutu explained that a lot has been done by the present management of NAMA adding that the government had provided funds for the upgrade of safe towers in the country. He noted that NAMA was unrelenting to achieve its goals
The NAMA boss while commending members of NATCA for their selfless service, pleaded for dialogue always to amicably address all pending NATCA issues.
The managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Capt. Hamisu Yadudu in his goodwill message acknowledged the contributions and the role of ATCs and urged stakeholders to celebrate them.
Yadudu noted that the hallmark of aviation is safety stressing that no safety, no aviation industry.
The FAAN boss also highlighted the need for effective communication and between the cockpit and aircraft.
In his welcome address, the president of NATCA, Abayomi Agoro, said they now have a sigh of relief, seeing that the aviation industry was gradually coming back on track from the scare of the Covid pandemic.
A control tower helps aircraft in flight separation
Agoro called on the government to reciprocate the good gestures and sacrifices made by the service providers and safety personnel in the aviation industry as appropriate, by looking into the various challenges in the industry with a view to finding lasting solutions to them.
He reiterated their MAYDAY call for the review of the ATC scheme of service as the ATC Scheme of Service was an issue that has lingered for too long adding that it would not be a bad idea if the issue was revisited with a view to drawing the attention of the relevant authorities to have it resolved once and for all.
“NATCA Executive Council took it up head-on and we sincerely cannot shy away from admitting that identified solution to the problem required several journey and special interventions”
“The numerous efforts deployed to the issue almost yielded the required result when a draft was agreed by all parties at a final meeting.
“However, in a twist of situation, some of the agreements were wrongly captured in the document released to NAMA as ATC Scheme of Service. This came to us as a rude shock, and we have reacted to it accordingly in a letter to the Ministry of Aviation and other relevant agencies of government”
Agoro, however, expressed concern over the seemingly stalled NAMA Condition of Service
(CoS) stressing that a major stakeholder in NAMA, NATCA drew the attention of the appropriate authorities to vital issues that challenge professionalism and threaten industrial harmony within the Agency in the negotiated draft of the staff Condition of Service
“We raised these concerns purely in the interest of justice, equity, and fairness. The roles of every professional in NAMA and the nature of licenses held by them are clearly stated in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (NCAR) Part 11. We, therefore, urge NAMA management and all the relevant unions to urgently address this issue”
He urged the management of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria to create the enabling environment to iron out the welfare issues raised by NATCA raised with the former rector.
Agoro stressed the need for improvements on the state of CNS facilities in NAMA and the need to review ATCOs’ retirement age/ length of service.
“Going by the recommendation of a committee set up by NCAA as captured in the communiqué released at the last AGM, NATCA in conjunction with the Directorate has formally requested an upward review of the age validity for ATC license holder from sixty (60) to sixty-five (65) years. This has been  granted by the DG and we sincerely thank the Authority for it”
New mobile air traffic tower acquired for NAMA
Agoro said there was the need to match the length of service with age to mitigate the acute shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, especially with the emerging airports and airlines.
He noted that scheduled training for 2020 was hindered by the Covid but said NATCA has engaged the Directorate of Operations to resume training for both local and international.
“We note with satisfaction the recently graduated Radar course at NCAT. The Area Airways Procedural (ACC-39), as well as AC-72 and 73, are ongoing. Basic PANS Ops is also ongoing in Cairo and CPDLC has been approved. We commend the Management for this feat and wish it continues in that manner”
Wole Shadare