Director General of the Agency, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu who was part of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondent (LAAC)’s 25th Annual Conference last week was on hand to explain the role present-day NiMet is playing with regards to early warning systems on weather-related issues to anyone who needs.
Professor Matazu spoke on the Agency’s role in aviation, advances, funding and staff motivation and why NiMet was put under the aviation industry especially as its services cuts across a wide spectrum of areas.
On why NiMet is domiciled under aviation:
Domiciled under the Federal Ministry of Aviation however does not limit, neither does it diminish the services rendered by the Agency according to Professor Matazu, who explained that meteorology is a vast area and could be domiciled anywhere and still provide services to the nation and beyond.
According to him, from aviation, it still renders services to areas like Agriculture, Communication, Power and Energy, Building & Construction as well as Oil and Gas, Education, Defence, Marine and Maritime, Health, Finance and Insurance.
He however said aviation was key and strategic because it needed real time weather forecast for operational efficiency and safety. READ MORE: NiMET says diversification of service net will increase revenue, keep it at par globally
He said, “A very critical component is the aeronautical meteorological forecast which we provide to the aviation industry. The whole aviation depends on weather forecast for operation especially the act of flying, if weather is good, you get smooth flight and if the weather is bad, you have a bumpy flight and the accuracy of our forecast is more than 90%. The Agency provides this forecast at the airport level e.g. we provide terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), METAR(routine meteorological report) along with TREND forecast when available and then also we give SIGMET (Significant Weather) alert if there is any fast growing weather system around the airport within the vicinity of the descent of 15 nautical miles.
“We provide update of our forecast as it affects the industry especially aviation. Whenever there is a significant weather change like the beginning of the raining season that is associated with thunder storms and other stormy weather, we pass that along. We provide forecast for wind-shear which is the highest risk factor with regards to aircraft operation so we have low lever wind-shear alert system around the airports in other to inform the pilot through ATCs.
“We are domiciled in the aviation industry where we are very much comfortable, we get our revenue from the industry based on our enabling act and that is also providing us additional strength to offer our services to other sectors, so we are in no way limited in providing services to other sectors. We are even getting more.
It just shows the relevance of weather even if we are taken to Ministry of agriculture or anywhere, still we will be offering service to the aviation industry but to answer, in aviation, per-minute, per-second operations depend on weather and so we are very much comfortable in Aviation.
On major advances inNiMet, during his presentation,Professor Matazu mentioned the Agency has 12 Marine Stations located in Calabar, Eket, Niomr& Koko (operational). Eastmole, Aiyetoro, Warri, Onne, PH Wharf, Apapa, Bonny, and Forcados.
He also said that the Agency has six (6) Doppler Weather Radar stations (Abuja, Port Harcourt [Operational], Yola, Maiduguri, Kano & Lagos, four (4) Air Quality and Ozone monitoring station (Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano); Synoptic and Automatic Weather Stations spread across the country, Instrument Calibration Laboratory, Abuja and eight (8) Upper Air Stations (Abuja, Enugu, Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri, Jos, Calabar and Yola)
“…One thing with Doppler weather radar is that it monitors fast moving weather systems. In Abuja and Port-Harcourt, we have done some upgrades. Doppler radar enhances our charting of extreme events and especially around airports and one of such radars covers 400 km spheres.
“By the time you have six, you will see beyond all Nigeria. You know weather has no boundaries and with this, you are able to monitor and chart weather systems.The installations have the components where our engineers are getting trained, especially in order to man it, and also our forecasters that are utilizing the radar. It is a very important project and we are not implementing it in a hurry. You have to make sure you get it right.
The Professor spelt out the Agency’s current revenue areas and how the Agency plans to improve on it through expanding its services to cover more areas as well as go beyond the borders of Nigeria, something it is already doing.
He said,” We discussed our source of funding enabled by our Establishment Act, that we get our percentage of air ticket, en-route charges. This makes us very fairly comfortable in terms of acquisition of infrastructure, especially hi-tech infrastructure for weather monitoring, weather forecasting and dissemination to users.
“Another window was diversification of our services, since aviation is just one of the sectors, we provide our services to, we are expanding into marine observation and services into agriculture. With also collaborate with partners and service providers, and we leverage on this to relay our services to the farmers; and that is another window.
He said that Government funding has been very encouraging even during the COVID-19 as the Agency got 100 per cent of its Government funding even as the Ministry is also assisting by providing some intervention under the Aviation Security funding and also the BASA funds. READ MORE: Climate Change: NiMet calls for monitoring of marine, ocean activities along coastal belt
On international expansion of our services, he said NiMet is metamorphosizing into an Agency with international visibility and relevance, providing services to other African countries stating that this will also bring about improved revenue for the Agency to aid in acquiring and upgrading more equipment.
“We are offering our services to some countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Malawi andThe Gambiaunder Nigeria’s Technical Assistance and the Voluntary Cooperation Programme (VCP) of World Meteorology Organization (WMO). We are offering the services for three countries initially and that gave us a huge visibility and relevance; and now presently United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is sponsoring our intervention with The Gambia. Presently our facilitators are in Banjul. They have been there for more than two years and we are getting some funding from that.
“Also, WMO and the African Development Bank (AfDB)are also making Nigeria to be Africa’s original hub to assisting other countries, bringing other projects. It is really giving us a window of relevance and this will greatly improve our revenue,” he said.
According to Matazu, staff welfare is paramount especially when it comes to providing a convenient, comfortable working environment which he is presently seeking.
“I can tell you that since I came in, in the last three months, we have had a percentage of our spending that we dedicate to training of staff at all times. At any time, every week, there are staff in one part of the country or the other undergoing training. Even on a real time basis, there are staff in Lagos, Katsina and many other places and outside the country that are undergoing training and this involves staff from all the cadres; from the lower level, drivers’ level to the managerial level. We feel this will make our staff more comfortable and improve their productivity and service delivery as much as possible.
Speaking on challenges, the Director General’s major concern was in securing the capital intensive and safety equipment that it has all over the country as some of its equipment are under threat.
He said,” The Agency is facing the challenges of Insecurity at some of our installations such as Low-Level Wind Shear Alert Systems and Radar Installations at some location e.g., Maiduguri
Doppler weather globally is a huge capital-intensive project but what affected the initial installation in Maiduguri and Yola was because of insecurity at that time.
Professor Matazu called for securing these equipment as their security also meant safety in the nation and an early warning system against elemental forces of weather which is fickle and could change at any time.