Flight operations threatened as air traffic controllers down tools Monday
THE Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), a body responsible for directing flight operations within the Nigerian airspace, has asked its members to withdraw their services from Monday.
In a statement signed by its leaders, Victor Eyaru and Banji Olawode, the group said it is embarking on the strike today due to the alleged insensitivity of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to professional and welfare matters concerning air traffic controllers which is threatening air safety in Nigeria.
The statement reads in part: “The executive council and entire members of Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) wish to bring to the notice of general public the intention of its members under the employment of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to withdraw their services indefinitely from 0000 UTC on Monday 19th January, 2015 as a result of the insensitivity of the NAMA Management to the professional and welfare matters affecting air traffic controllers.
“We regret to express our grievances on the lack of recognition of the long-standing sacrifices and display of patriotism by Nigerian air traffic controllers being among the prime professionals in the aviation industry at keeping the Nigerian airspace safe despite various challenges being faced in carrying out the safety critical functions.
“Nigerian air traffic controllers are no doubt among the most efficient professionals the Nigerian aviation industry can boast of. Air Navigation Service Provision (ANSP) in Nigeria and world over revolves around the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs). It is no gain-saying that ATCOs are the arrowheads of air safety since ANSP is primarily the provision of air traffic services.
“The unfortunate working conditions of air traffic controllers include but not limited to inadequate and delayed statutory trainings for more than two years, inconclusive trainings spanning up to four years since the commencement of the trainings, excessive workloads due to inadequate manpower, incessant equipment failures, exposure to various health hazards, poor remuneration and inadequate working tools.
“We wish to inform the public that incessant air traffic delays and cancellations during this season were not only due to reduction in visibility, but reasonably due to non-serviceability of navigational aids such as Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), VOR at destination aerodromes. The TRACON in Lagos has also witnessed frequent total collapse in recent times. In the past four days, it has collapsed totally twice. When any of the equipment fails, the workloads of air traffic controllers and pilots increases and the situation increases the levels of fatigue thereby encouraging infringement on air safety.”