Aviation workers to protest indebtedness of airlines

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

AVIATION workers under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) have disclosed plans of a mass protest against debts owed by airlines, disparity in employment of personnel for the aviation agencies and the wrong parking of tankers on Lagos airport, access road.

Tanker drivers who were dislodged from the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway have relocated to the Murtala Mohammed Airport road.

It could be observed that fuel tankers and other articulated vehicles now park indiscriminately on both sides of the airport road.

Consequently, this has caused heavy traffic on the road, with the three lanes road being narrowed to one for motorists to ply.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had in August 2013 relocated the tanker drivers to a permanent site after years of causing havoc on the highway to the airport.

But despite the relocation to a permanent site, the tanker drivers under the guise of supplying aviation fuel to airlines at the airport park their vehicles on the road and threaten to go on strike whenever the authorities challenge their action.

The unions are currently mobilising their members in all the agencies for a protest, which would hold next Tuesday.

A source close to one of the unions confirmed that the protest would be held at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of MMA.

According to the source, the union members would be drawn from all the major agencies in the sector. These are the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

He added that the unions decided to hold the protest to inform government of the challenges being faced by the agencies, lamenting that almost all the domestic airlines are indebted to the agencies, which he said had prevented them from carrying out their responsibilities required by the Acts setting them up.

For instance, a particular airline was accused of owing all the agencies, NAMA, FAAN and NCAA about N5 billion while the total debts owed FAAN was put at N22 billion.

The unions are also preparing to protest against the recent engagements in the agencies especially in FAAN and NCAA where thousands of workers had been employed in the past three years.

The unions claimed that the recruitments made by aviation ministers in the past three years were unacceptable to them, stressing that rather than engage young graduates, political appointees were appointed and given top positions, which they said was antithetical to the growth of the sector.

He agreed that the government has the prerogative of transferring or redeploying staff to other agencies within the industry, but condemned, purported unscrupulous and unwholesome invasion of the agencies by personnel without aviation background.

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