By Daniel Eteghe
The disagreement between the Air Traffic Controllers under the aegis of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, NATCA, and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Wednesday took a new twist as both parties openly traded words over lack of communication facilities in the airspace, which could lead to air disaster.
Speaking during an interactive session with newsmen, President of NATCA, Mr. Victor Eyaru, affirmed that the communication problem with the radio had existed for three decades beyond this management and that solution to the problem had overwhelmed all managements of NAMA till date.
Eyaru, however, called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on aviation communication facilities in the interest of Nigerians and to forestall any mid air collusion in the airspace.
The call according to the NATCA President, cannot be shrugged off as it is a wake up call for NAMA to do all it takes to correct the anomaly.
Eyaru expressed sadness that NAMA expended over N400 million for the total VHF coverage project and bought personalized headsets of over N400,000 each, stressing this was no solution to the problem.
He said: “If all operational Air Traffic Controllers, who are members of NATCA, through their daily loggings, are saying the communication equipment available to them should be improved upon to avert impending air disaster are termed as alarmists and saboteurs, then, the system needs a curative measure fast.
Reacting to the accusation of NATCA, NAMA in a statement signed by the General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Supo Atobatele, debunked the claim.
The statement read in part: “The management is affirmative that the seeming gloomy picture being painted by this group does not exist as statistics shows more traffic across the nation ‘s airports, averaging 500, apart from over 150 daily flights around the Port Harcourt airport axis operated by the oil companies”.
”Apart from this, daily foreign flights into the country has been on the increase, just as the nation is being inundated with more requests by the foreign airlines aspiring to explore Nigerian market.
”What else do you need to measure a safer sky?If there are no communication as being touted by the controllers, one may then ask of their magic wand in handling these flights in question over decades as suggested in their statement.