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Poor funding costs airlines effective air navigation, service delivery

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Managing director Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu

Air navigation and traffic control experts yesterday blamed poor funding for the lack of effective air navigation and service delivery in the local aviation industry.

The stakeholders, therefore, urged the government to provide fund for the upgrade and replacement of obsolete air navigation equipment to enable the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) deliver its services according to global best practices.  

Speaking at the quarterly business breakfast meeting of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) in Lagos yesterday, the group identified the right workforce as a fundamental problem.

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The immediate past rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Samuel Caulcrick, said the college was ready to train personnel in air navigation, but is constantly faced with the constraint of inadequate resources.

Caulcrick explained that globally, countries are reluctant to privatise the air navigation because private sectors are profit driven but air navigation is about safety, adding that therefore, the resources to train personnel has continued to be limited.

“We need to dedicate a certain sum of amount to aviation development. Over the years, NCAT had placed so much emphasis in flying school and this is gradually changing to give equal attention to air traffic controllers, engineers and other aviators,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, the president of ASRTI, Gabriel Olowo, urged the Federal Government to scrap the office of Minister of Aviation, saying the industry would perform better as a unit under the Ministry of Transportation.

Olowo said, whether senior or junior cabinet member, the aviation industry does not require a minister.

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During his opening remarks on the theme, ‘Safety Challenges in Air Navigation and Air Traffic Service Delivery in Nigeria,’ Olowo explained that having a separate aviation ministry or minister is a burden on the agencies.

The agencies in aviation are the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which is the overall regulatory authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), among others.

Aviation previously had senior ministers before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari collapsed the ministry into the Ministry of Transportation with the section headed by a Minister of State.

Hadi Sirika is the immediate-past Minister of State was but Olowo insisted the aviation industry doesn’t require appointing any minister, saying without a minister, the heads of the agencies would be empowered to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

“Aviation ministry is a clog in the wheel of progress,” he declared, adding, “We want aviation like it is done in other countries as a department under the Ministry of Transportation.”

Olowo said the aviation industry has suffered from lack of plans in the past, saying there is the challenge of planning into the future.


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