Air traffic controller dies on duty at Abuja airport
• NACAN bemoans poor workplace safety, personnel shortfall
Air traffic controller at the Abuja Station of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Aniekan Inuk Effiong, yesterday, died on duty.
Effiong, who was pronounced dead at the hospital, was said to be in fine health on resumption of duty a night before.
The Assistant General Manager of Operations died amid complaints on workplace safety, poor equipment and shortage of personnel deployed to control towers nationwide.
Public Affairs General Manager at NAMA, Khalid Emele, confirmed the demise of Effiong. He noted that the deceased reported to duty at the Abuja Approach Radar Control (TRACON) on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. without any sign of illness.
“He was to close by 7:00 a.m. the next day (Monday). However, at about 4:00 a.m., (yesterday morning), he experienced difficulty in breathing.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) ambulance was called to evacuate him to the nearest medical facility. He was immediately taken to the Air Force base clinic where he died,” Emele said.
Weeks ago, the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA), Aniefiok Umoh, also died after a brief illness.
The National Air Traffic Communicators Association of Nigeria (NACAN) had complained about inadequate equipment and personnel that have made efficient services almost impossible at all levels of air traffic control nationwide.
President of NACAN, George Nkambo, had urged NAMA management to address the shortage of manpower to enhance the safety of personnel.
He observed that his unit needs additional 300 personnel to join the 176 on the ground to effectively cover airports nationwide.
He said airports, like Lagos, are also facing a shortfall, causing available personnel to become overworked.
“With equipment (aircraft) coming into Lagos, and only two persons on a shift, it will be difficult to offer their functions at the terminal, receiving data from Kano or Abuja stations.
“We have e-flight plans and messages coming from airlines. In Lagos, we have several flights between 11 and 12 midnight. All scheduled flights turn in their plans for transmission, and you require communicators to do that. So, our people get overworked to the detriment of their health,” Nkambo said.