- Says NAMA needs 650 ATCS to cover gaps
This is just as they have said that the country needs no fewer than 650 controllers nationwide to meet the needs of existing and new airports popping up, a statistics hindered because Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) employs over 4000 staff of which the core professional are less than 400, inadequate to meet present needs.
President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Abayomi Agoro who alongside his team played host to some aviation correspondents revealed these shocking realities from the lack of a control tower at the Kaduna Airport to lack of an urinary system at the Katsina control tower and failed equipment in Kano stressing that ATCs bear the brunt of the dilapidated system.
He said, “The working environment is becoming deplorable… I said any of your members are free to walk into our working facilities you’d get an on the spot assessment, as I am talking to you now, some airports do not even have functioning equipment. Even the Kaduna we are talking about, Kaduna does not have control tower what they are using there is watch room (for fire fighters) which is not built for that purpose and we have been calling on the government to do something, we go to Sokoto, once it rains today controllers will go to look for umbrellas to sit at the control tower and what is it?
“Some of the control towers attached to the terminal buildings were ceded to FAAN while those standing alone were with NAMA but we have approached the two organization just like the lift too, NAMA will be waiting for FAAN to put it in order FAAN will say is it our staff that are working there? And that is because of that bureaucracy and you now discover controllers will continue to suffer.
“We are still battling with terrestrial radio frequency, communication here and there. Calabar is there; there is no airport you will go to today that you would say things are working 80%
Buttressing his point, Deputy Vice President NATCA, Ahmed Adamu Bello spoke on Katsina expressing dismay at the working conditions there of which he said there was no system to answer nature’s call unless the ATC left the building which would be a breach of professional ethics.
Bello said,” In addition, you mentioned Katsina, Katsina today where you have a one man watch and there is no facility for him to go and ease himself he is a human being, just to urinate, are we saying he is going to get a bottle? Or descend the tower? If he descends, he is in breach of his professional ethics so what do you expect that person to do? In Katsina no rest room was provided, nothing, we are not just making claims, all these are verifiable these are facts that are there.
On Kano he said,” Also you mentioned Kano, Kano fine building, that all. The facilities inside unfortunately is a failure. Verify everything we say everything we mentioned here, we are not being emotional we are angry because if the system demands I put my whole life into it, I expect the system to provide me the working tools to be able to do that. I’ve not spent close to two year ab-initio in the training school for me to qualify as a professional for me to be frustrated by a system that does not want me to give my best.
According to the NATCA President, the Federal Government is allocating money, NAMA also generates money but he is confused as to where these monies are going as nothing is being touched or improved upon in the towers.
” Things are not okay. Our members are also telling us that we are not doing what is expected of us. Do you know that if you get to some control towers ordinary chairs to sit, we have to go and beg. This year I have met the NAMA management asking them that ordinary chairs we can’t have for controllers who will sit 6-12 hours are you saying this persons will not have back pains and again these people have climbed the multitude of stairs because the elevators are not there or don’t work, it’s not ideal. Even when our members complain to us, we are in tears we don’t know what to say,” the president said.
Dearth of critical personnel:
On staff strength of ATCs nation wide and the impending workload Agoro said it was shameful that NAMA has gone on to employ everyone but core professionals in the critical areas who are needed to do the job stating that even as there are lack of ATCs, redundant staff are sitting while collecting money for doing nothing only to run one week in, one week out shifts.
Agoro said,”We should have at least 600 to 650 because let me also tell you there is no point in leaving one controller on duty in the tower, it is dangerous and we must say it and while a station like Kaduna has less than 6 Air traffic controllers definitely they will work only one per shift but I can tell you that NAMA has close to 4,000 staff.
“Even in some department you see them drawing a roster,’ if you come this week don’t come next week’ so what are we trying to say? NAMA at a point we tried to do internal recruitment just to see whether we can bring some of these redundant staff and train them at least it would help the system but they don’t want, and those who agreed to convert they are regretting today. Many of them seven, eight years they’ve been in one place which is a great discouragement to others who would want to, and what is NAMA HR trying to do?
“They are asking who asked you to convert and go there. They are now our members but many of them are regretting, is that how an organization should be? And people come to work day in day out doing nothing and after sitting down they are paid. They have brought so many people in the agency who are not meaningfully engaged all they just do is to sit down and we are talking about a critical area where we have gap.”