By Chinelo Obogo
The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has said the country’s air space is now under serious threat as hoodlums have continued vandalising navigational aids and assets across all its facilities.
NAMA’s Managing Director Captain Fola Akinkuotu, raised the alarm during the visit of the Senate Committee on Aviation to his office in Lagos, led by its Chairman, Smart Adeyemi, at the weekend.
He said the agency was in dire need of protection for its navigational aids acrossthe country, even as he called for the immediate support of the National Assembly for the replacement of communication gadgets which he says are now antiquated.
The NAMA boss said it was unfortunate that the country didn’t forsee the current security challenges in some parts, especially Iju area of Lagos, which he said was one of the places were its equipment were vandalised. Akinkuotu said this development was capable of hampering air flight safety in the country.
He emphasised that the agency was linking all its stations with the Information Communication Technology (ICT) and appealed to more funding.
The flight captain revealed that the Federal Government has given approval for the installation of three Category III Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at Kano, Port Harcourt and Katsina Airports to further enhance the coverage of the country’s airspace.
“Navigational aids are key components in safety. If communication is poor, it increases stress and reduces air safety. In getting from point A to B in the air, we have air waves.
“When we get to our stations, we are meant to provide navigation into the runway and terminal where the pilot can have smooth a and safe landing, that is why we need new and up to date navigational aids. We need your support to further upgrade our facilities especially our communication gadgets, which are now archaic.
“NAMA has made good efforts in recent times to build on what we have in the past few years. We installed two different Category III ILS equipment, which gives you different minima,” he said.
In his remarks, Senator Smart Adeyemi, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviatio, said that the senate was aware of some of the challenges facing the agency and promised to help it overcome them.
Adeyemi also explained that the relevance of NAMA in the aviation industry could not be underestimated.
“I know that the safety we enjoy in the aviation industry is not unconnected with the contributions of all of you in this agency.
“You have spoken on safety, you talked about communication, navigation and surveillance that talks about safety and that is the major issue in the aviation industry. Once people are sure of their safety, they would fly,” he said. Adeyemi also promised that the National Assembly would accelerate the six aviation agencies’ bills seeking to change their Acts in the next few months.
He noted that some of the challenges facing some of the agencies, especially NAMA would be addressed through the new bills, assuring that whatever would be passed by the assembly would pass the test of time.
“Aviation in Nigeria today is something we should be proud of. We may not have attained the level that people want to see, but seriously speaking, there are areas that when you look at it in aviation, we can say we have not done badly. We have had a very good track record of safety, but I think we can do better.
“However, there is the need to protect NAMA assets at all stations, including Iju area of Lagos. I would have loved to take you there, but for lack of time at this moment. The fact is we never foresaw the current situation in the country. Some of our facilities have been vandalised in some stations,” Adeyemi said.