Nnamdi Udoh, MD, NAMA
The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has said that it guides over 500 aircraft through the nation’s airspace every day.
These, NAMA pointed out, excluded over fliers- that is, aircraft that pass Nigeria’s airspace to other destinations and helicopter operations which fly to the oil rig operations in the Niger Delta.
The Managing Director of the agency, Nnamdi Udoh, made this known when he explained the conditions of communication in the airspace.
Udoh said because of the heavy traffic that developed recently in the country, the agency was expanding the system for easy communication between the pilots and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).
Reacting to the petition written by some controllers, who are the executive members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), he said that if communications in Nigeria’s airspace was not working as the controllers claimed, no flight would take off or land in any of Nigeria’s airports, adding that any pilot who dared operate aircraft in such airspace would lose his licence.
The NAMA boss, who spoke to newsmen in Lagos explained: “For record purposes, NAMA wants to use this opportunity and this platform to reassure Nigerians and all our airspace users, pilots and other stakeholders that the airspace is safe and will always be safe"
He observed that if some of the controllers claim that the communication system in the airspace was not working, it means that they have not been working in the last three months because without communication there is nothing the controllers would be doing. Besides, he wondered how an aircraft could have been flying during the same period if the airspace was not safe as no pilot would venture into the airspace without communication.
"If the report quoted Air Traffic Controllers, it means that, that Air Traffic Controllers have done no work in the last three months and are not supposed to be paid and how do aeroplanes fly in the last three months without communications system?" he queried.
Udoh however pointed out that the only challenge that was confronting the agency at the moment was its long-range frequency, which it has just introduced, insisting that there was no control tower that had a single challenge in terms of communication in the country at the moment.
To cope with this challenge the NAMA said it had embarked on the sectorialisation of the frequency by dividing it into two frequencies so that one frequency would handle the western part of the Lagos centre while the other part would handle the eastern part so that each sector would have a frequency of its own. This, they believe, would reduce the congestion.
Confirming the explanation of Udoh, the Director of Operations, NAMA, Alhaji Mukaila Solola, who is in charge of the controllers, said that the claim by the air traffic controllers that there was no communication in the airspace was a campaign of calumny, noting that such moves to tarnish the image of the agency and create unnecessary panic amongst the Nigerian travelling public was an attempt to intimidate the agency.
He added that when some of them were not included in foreign trips for training they become desperate.
“We have taken the bold steps to nip in the bud this campaign of calumny because it impacts on the nation negatively and we would further use this moment to reassure all stakeholders that the situation is definitely not what is portrayed by mischief makers," Solola said.