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Tackling inadequate aviation infrastructure

Published by The Nation on Tue, 17 Nov 2020

Efforts by the Federal Government to address inadequate airport and air navigation infrastructure at aerodromes are not delivering the desired result. To reverse the trend, air traffic engineers have urged the government to address the dearth of personnel and operational facilities, writes KELVIN OSA-OKUNBOR.THE drive to improve safety in the air transport sector is engaging the attention of players across the globe as countries continue to invest huge resources in fixing dearth of personnel and inadequate operational infrastructure.To this end, the Federal Government said it would spend over N78 billion on critical projects in 2021.Besides, the national carrier, Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, said government would spend N14 billion on the construction of the second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and 10 new airports to boost civil aviation.But, experts have called on the government to fix the sore points at airports nationwide.Last week, the National Association of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE) decried the shortage of manpower and inadequate operational vehicles to enable technical personnel effectively carryout operations at airports.Its National President, Ishaya Dung, an engineer, said this in Lagos at weekend during the commemoration of the 2020 World Air Traffic Safety Electronics Professionals (ATSEP) Day.Air traffic safety electronics personnel, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation ( ICAO), are involved in the creation and support of ground-based electronic hardware and software systems for air navigation and traffic management.Dung said the dearth of personnel had affected the ability of air traffic engineers to meet their statutory obligations. He said the shortage of vehicles remained a major challenge to air traffic engineers function.According to him, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) requires that each of the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance ( CNS) department in each airport is supposed to have a dedicated operational vehicle attached to it to facilitate operations.He stated that the fact of not having enough training was dragging the engineers backwards in the discharge of their duties.According to him, the responsibility to perform to the optimum rests on the shoulders of few engineers.He noted that as a result of the shortage of engineers, some of them travel from Lagos to Port Harcourt , Rivers State and other airports when issues arise in fixing some challenges.Dung said apart from the above challenges, the management of NAMA has improved tremendously on the communication equipment across the country.He said : We have adequate navigation surveillance coverage within the Nigeria airspace.I wouldnt say we have enough manpower,but the status is not also too poor. We keep drawing the attention of the management of NAMA to some of these issues.He said though Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has about 500 airport engineers nationwide, there is need to engage more air traffic engineers for effective coverage.He said in the last three years, over 150 air traffic engineers have been recruited by NAMA.
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