The Federal Government says it will upgrade the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency’s infrastructure toward enhancing safety of the nation’s airspace.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave the assurance on Tuesday at a Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum in Lagos.
Sirika said that aviation was a key means of transportation that contribute to the nation’s economic growth and development.
According to him, the policy thrust of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is to provide enabling environment for investment in sectors that will stimulate economic diversification.
Sirika, represented by Alhaji Sabiu Zakarimade, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, said: “A safe airspace, seamless and free flow of domestic, regional and international air traffic are essential for capital investment into any economy.
He said: “In keeping faith with this policy direction, I will continue to support, encourage and facilitate all initiatives from NAMA and indeed other agencies.
“This is to provide required airspace infrastructure and facilities for safe air travel in our airspace and bring about sustainable growth in the sector.”
Earlier, the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, solicited the government’s assistance in the agency’s drive to re-engineer the airspace facilities within the shortest period of time.
Akinkuotu said that continuous assistance from the government was necessary for the provision and maintenance of airspace infrastructure, adding that the required personnel were quite expensive.
He said that the goal of NAMA was to upgrade the navigational aids at the airports in order to reduce flight delays and cancellations in the country.
The managing director said that NAMA needs fund to modernise the safer tower system at the four international airports located in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Abuja.
Akinkuotu said that before the end of the year, the Instrument Landing System III would be installed in Lagos and Kano airports once funds were granted to the agency by the Ministry of Transportation.
He said early in 2017, there were complaints of shortcomings in the performance of Communication, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management facilities on assumption of duty as management team in NAMA.
Akinkuotu said: “There was desire for urgent improvement by our customers.
“Also, request for staff training and improvement in the welfare of the workforce was in the fore-front of the welcome address delivered by the labour unions within the agency.
“Our approach was to identify and apply measures in the short, medium and long terms to respond to these issues.
“I can report today that some of the measures implemented are already yielding positive results.”
According to him, a notable short-term measures implemented to address radio communication challenge was optimisation of the Very High Frequency radio for Upper Airways communication between Air Traffic Controllers and pilots, which recorded a significant success.
He said: “Almost at the same time, new VHF radios were also installed in 17 airports for approach or aerodrome control. This also is a success.
“I know that achieving effective upper airways radio communication is an old time challenge, but we are in a hurry to record it in our list of success stories.
“To this end, high power standalone radios were recently installed in Lagos and Kano area control centres to back up the main radio systems.”
Akinkuotu said that the Lagos end had been inaugurated and was in operation, while installation in Kano had just been completed and would soon be put to use.