The federal government has pledged to support the manpower development of air traffic controllers and to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in the aviation industry.
This is to ensure the continuous safety and seamlessness of air navigation in the country.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made this known when he declared open the 29th International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA) Africa and Middle East Regional Meeting at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja recently.
Sirika said government was prepared to partner with the international body of air traffic controllers in a bid to ensure safe skies both in Nigeria and globally “given that the job of an air traffic controller is both crucial and critical to the overall safety of air travel.”
Sirika noted that in government’s determination to ensure that air traffic controllers are proficient in their job, it has made deliberate and aggressive effort in the area of operational manpower training and retraining, stressing that a high number of air traffic controllers have been trained and employed under his watch as Minister, while some are currently undergoing training at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.
He also disclosed that another set of air traffic controllers trained by the Kano State government have been absorbed into the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
The Aviation Minister also said as part of effort to make the job of air traffic controllers more efficient and less cumbersome, government had earlier deployed ADS-C/CPDLC (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract/ Controller Pilot Data Link Communication) both in Kano and Lagos Area Control Centres (ACCs).
Sirika, who was accompanied to the event by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Alh. Sabiu Zakari and heads of aviation parastatals assured the delegates that the federal government would implement the outcome of their deliberations as “IFATCA remains a critical stakeholder in the global aviation family.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Mr Victor Eyaru, said the gathering would “focus mainly on intensifying efforts to achieving unbroken air safety within our region and beyond and this requires the collaborative effort across the borders to ensure seamless, safe and efficient air navigation.”
He lamented however that the Africa and Middle East region which has more than 15 per cent global population contributes marginally to global air travel adding that the time had come for the region the put its act together and take up the challenge.