N1bn uncleared facilities threaten NAMA’s automation


  •    Akinkuotu: Agency constrained by funds

Since 1998, it has been more of rhetoric than actualisation of yet-to-be-completed Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) automation and there are indications that it may remain so following delay in deployment of infrastructure.

This was further worsened by the inability of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to clear the over N1 billion facilities that are still trapped at the seaport.

Woleshadarenews learnt that the equipment purchased was brought into the country last year and is yet to be cleared after concerted efforts made by the agency’s management.

At the celebration of the 2019 World AIS Day in Lagos, Managing Director NAMA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, said the Nigeria Customs service (NCS) was asking for N100 million before the clearance of the equipment and had refused to grant waiver for its release.

Akinkuotu, represented by the Director Operations, Mr. Lawrence Pwajok, at the event with the theme: “The Benefits of Automation to Aeronautical Information Management,” expressed fear that the equipment may rust and become obsolete if not given an expedited clearance.

“Clearing of these goods and paying customs duties cost hundreds of millions because these are very expensive equipment, we must find funds for doing this clearance and it must be done urgently because the equipment cannot remain in the ports at the risk of bad weather and anything could expire there and we will run the risk of starting all over again.”

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He lamented that the agency was back to square one again, dashing the hopes of the AIS personnel in the automation of the AIS in the country after 10 years of foot dragging on the project.

He however, stated that the setback would not affect the automation of the AIS, as the minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika was working tirelessly to ensure that the project was implemented.

Akinkuotu assured AIMAN that management was working hard to ensure more AIS officers were trained ahead of the completion of the Automation system, adding that efforts were on in providing conducive working environment for the officers to carry out their job effectively towards ensuring safety.

He explained that the agency was asked not to include the clearance fees for the equipment in last year’s budget and assured that as a government agency, the equipment would be granted waiver.

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“The project did not envisage that we will have to pay for clearing, it was two years ago we were at the National Assembly with the former MD and the National Assembly insisted we should not cost for clearing of government equipment in the budget, they say you can get a waiver from customs and from the ministry of finance and from the CBN and you don’t need to pay.

“Today, we live in a world in constant motion where time and information are becoming more precious. No one wants to lose a minute at doing nothing. It is by integrating this reality that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is developing daily, the critical role of AIS to meet global challenges.
“The objective of the AIS is to ensure the flow of information necessary for the safety, regularity and efficiency of international air navigation. When completed, it will enhance air to ground and ground-to-ground information and boost interconnectivity between aircraft and air traffic controllers.

The AIS is installed in 11 locations and is planned to go on stream at the end of the year but would connect every part of the country by the end of 2017.

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To achieve success, all the key agencies or data originators including the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigerian Air Force, etc would need to enhance their data collation, origination, processing, storage and exchange system.

Other deliverables of AIS would include the enhancement of e-NOTAM, e-Flight Planning, e-AIP, e-TOD, e-Charts, e-Flight briefing and also boost capacity for voice and data communication for both air to ground and ground to ground communication.

ICAO Annex 15 states that the AIS shall use automated pre-flight information systems to specify that pre-flight information must be made available at each aerodrome /or heliport normally used for international operations.
This includes all aerodromes/ or heliports designated for regular use by international commercial air transport as listed in the relevant ICAO regional plans and any aerodromes/ or heliports serving as alternates to these regular aerodromes/heliports.

Wole Shadare