Nigerian Airspace Agency seeks assistance after bandits attack
By Mabel Kanu, Lagos
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu has cried out for assistance to protect its assets at various stations and airports across the country from hoodlums as such dastardly acts endangers air safety.
The management also sought the prioritization of the agency by the National Assembly, stressing that some of its communication gadgets are archaic and needs replacement.
Akinkiotu said this following an oversight visit by members of the Senate Committee on Aviation, led by the Chairman, Senator Smart Adeyemi.
He lamented that more than 24 hours after kidnappers abducted their staff with five family members and three other persons at the airport, their abductors were yet to make contact with the agency.
He warned that this development could jeopardize efforts of the government in improving air safety in the sector.
Akinkuotu explained that NAMA had invested in navigational aids in recent times, but lamented that some of the assets were regularly vandalised by hoodlums and called for improved security for its assets at airports and stations across the country.
He regretted that the country never foresaw the current security challenges in some parts of the country and mentioned Iju area of Lagos as one of the places were its equipment had been vandalised.
He explained further that the Federal Government had given an approval for the installation of three Category III Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) at Kano, Port Harcourt and Katsina Airports, saying that this would further enhance the coverage of the country’s airspace.
Essence of technology
Akinkuotu emphasised that the agency was linking all its stations with the Information Communication Technology (ICT) and appealed to more funding for the agency.
He said: “NAMA has made good efforts in recent times to build on what we have in the past years. We installed two different Category III ILS equipment, which gives you different minima.
“However, there is the need to protect NAMA assets at all stations, including Iju area of Lagos. The fact is we never foresaw the current situation in the country. Some of our facilities have been vandalised in some stations.
“We need your support to further upgrade our facilities especially our communication gadgets, which are archaic.”
Relevance of Aviation Industry
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said that the senate was aware of some of the challenges facing the agency and promised to help.
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. I salute you for this. You have done excellently well.
“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.
“You have said a lot of things that bother on safety, you talked about communication, navigation and surveillance that talk 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.
He lauded NAMA and other aviation agencies for the achievements recorded especially during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.