To bridge shortage of manpower among Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) in the aviation sector, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will need N2.5billion to train 120 ATCs’ in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Singapore.
Speaking against the backdrop of shortage of ATCs’in the sector, the secretary general of the Aviation Round Table (ART), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP yesterday said training ATCs in above listed countries will be more cheaper than US, Europe.
Recall that NAMA has lamented shortage of air traffic controllers, saying the development has made the agency to engage non-technical staff and retirees to address the gap.
The shortage also led to the death of an ATC, Aniekan Effiong Inuk, on November 22, 2021 while on duty at the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
However, speaking on bridging the gap in the sector, Ojikutu said NAMA has been battling with shortage of ATC’s since 2007 as recorded in the report of the ministerial committee on safety recommendations implementation.
According to him, while the shortage of personnel recorded then was 300 in 2007, the shortfall will now be more than twice the figure identified in 2007 saying fund scheduled to refund Katsina, Gombe and Bayelsa for building airports in the respective states should be used to train ATCs.
He said, “A controller was just said to have collapsed died on duty because of stress the consequence of long hours on duty because of shortage of controllers which the agency (NAMA) has been battling with since 2007 as recorded in the report of the ministerial Committee on safety recommendations implementation.”
“My last calculation tells me that we need just N2.5billion to train 120 controllers within the next 4 to 6 months. The shortage recorded then was 300; today, the shortfall is more than twice that figure. The committee recommended at that time to do a crash programme training in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Singapore where the cost was cheaper than US, Europe, etc. Instead the intervention money was misapplied and misappropriated.”
Ojikutu, however, advised the federal government to stop state governments from establishing airports for political reasons if there would be no economic benefits from it to the people.
Ojikutu queried air traffic and passengers figures at some state owned airports compared to the population of the state that warranted their establishments.
According to him, most airports built by state government are not economically viable asking the governors to spend money on developing their states than building airports.
His words, “The FG should stay away from establishing airports for political reasons if there would be no economic benefits from it to the people. How much has the FG spent on the health sector for the people of Katsina state? How much has the FG spent on l educational in the state? What is the air traffic and passengers figures at Katsina compared to the population of the state? Let the FG look for educational and health projects that will be of better benefits to the majority of the people of the state than just one for the few.
“There are many ways to help the needy states but not at the expense of the critical services needed for the safety and security of the people, and especially in the aviation sector.”