NIMET to complete installation of N2.7b weather radar system, 13 years after
About 13 years after the facility was bought and abandoned, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has concluded plans to install and put the N2.7 billion worth of Doppler weather radar system to use.
The fresh optimism is not unconnected with the missing link – a component – that has just been acquired in readiness for the final stages of the installation.
The radar system, The Guardian learnt, will enhance nationwide weather coverage and predictions, with attendant effects on airspace safety. The contract for the Doppler weather radar was awarded in 2007 by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The Director-General of NIMET, Prof. Sani Mashi, recently told reporters in Lagos that the project was awarded for N2.7 billion, with an additional component and installation cost of another N100 million. The later cost was not paid and has stalled the project since then.
He disclosed that the same component has now been acquired at an appreciated cost of N400 million.
He explained that NIMET was able to get special allocation for the completion from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) purse, through the intervention of the Minister of Aviation.
Mashi hinted that the components for the radar system were delivered last week and ferried to their different locations for installations.
According to him, the components would be installed in Ikeja (Lagos Airport) and Kano Airport. As soon as the installation was done, he said, the American company awarded the contract would then mount the radar on it.
He said: “When the contract was designed in 2007, there was a designed problem. The radar was supposed to be mounted on top of a tower. At Kano and Lagos locations, there were towers that were erected in 1974. So, the contract was designed in such a way that rather than constructing a new tower, those old towers of 1974 would be used so to save more money. That was how the project was under-designed.
“When I took over (as the DG), I discovered the project got stalled. The contractors inspected the towers and came back with a report that the towers were so weak and they can’t hoist anything because of the heavy load. The weight of the tower is about 12 tonnes. So, they said it had to be because it was not part of the original contract. They said there was nothing they could do.
“The components have been delivered last week and they are in Ikeja and Kano. We are going to erect them. Already, they have delivered the towers in these two locations. So, as soon as we finish the installation, which will just take about two months, the Americans who were doing the contract will now come and mount the radar.”
He was optimistic that the weather radar coverage would have achieved at least 80 per cent airspace coverage by June, leveraging on other equipment earlier installed in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
“You know Doppler radar system is an instrument that measure characteristics of precipitation. Precipitation, storm intensity, storm direction, and other things, can affect flight and operations, which means that with us now in a position to measure so much characteristics of precipitation, we will now be in a position to have adequate information that will help us to ensure that planning operations are made quite safe, and sustainable within the country. That is a major breakthrough,” he said.