With the level of piracy, oil theft and other forms of criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will soon complete its $12.9million Wide Area Multi-Lateration project that will provide surveillance for low flying helicopters, unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as monitoring coastal areas for ships .
Ag managing director of NAMA, Mr. Lawrence Mathew Pwajok who made this known recently said that the project which should be deployed by year’s end or early next year is 80% done and ill increase surveillance in the oil rich Niger delta region given the strategic importance of the area to the country.
Pwajok said presently facilities are being installed all over the region, as transmitters and receivers are spread around 29 locations in the entire Niger Delta with a centralized system domiciled in Port Harcourt.
He explained,”It is a project which started with FEC approval in 2018. We are in the process of concluding it, w had a stakeholders’ sensitization to get the buy-in, understanding, support and cooperation of stakeholders.
“The surveillance system for the M-LAT is for low flying helicopters and the beauty of this new concept or surveillance system is that it capture low flying helicopters that have increased in the Niger Delta area and knowing the strategic importance of the region to sector of the economy we had to put a surveillance system that can enhance efficiency for low flying helicopters in the area.
“We incorporated in our M-LAT, a UTM system, Unmanned Aircraft Tracking Management System that is a surveillance and management system that detects drones or what we refer to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flying around there.
“M-LAT monitors and inspects movement along critical infrastructure like pipelines and also carry out security surveillance, it can also be used for maritime surveillance especially along the coastal areas for ship monitoring and surveillance.
On its uses in the maritime sector Pwajok stressed,”You drew attention to something vital that we envisioned to be part of the project when it was conceived way back in 2015. The Gulf of Guinea is a very troubled zone, well known for piracy, oil theft and other criminal activities. The Navy and NIMASA have paid close attention and have made some improvement.
“When the M-LAT was conceived the idea was to provide surveillance for both aviation and maritime and it is still very capable of doing that. It can track ships and ca also track aircraft in flight that is why it is referred to as low level helicopter systems.
“Ships operating at sea can be tracked. The Navy brought up the issue during our stakeholders meeting and we told them phase one will take care of low level helicopters and we can go into partnership with them to incorporate ships and that would enhance search and rescue and management over the Gulf of Guinea.”