By Kenneth Ehigiator
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, has appealed to the World Bank to prevail on the U.S. Embassy to stop denying its Muslim air traffic controllers, ATCs, visas to enter America for critical training programmes.
The appeal came against the backdrop of the fact that the bank provides some of the funds for the training programme.
NAMAâ€™s Managing Director, Mr. Ibrahim Auyo, made the appeal when a delegation of the World Bank Task Team currently in the country visited him in his office.
He said NAMA muslim officials are denied visas to enter US for ATC training.
Auyo said NAMA required about 500 air traffic controllers to effectively control air traffic, stressing that its 350 ATCsÂ were not enough to do the job.
He said to bridge the capacity gap in the area of air traffic control, NAMA would need further assistance from the bank.
He commended the bank for its previous assistance towards the successful execution ofÂ Â the agencyâ€™s combined Area and Radar Course for four batches of 49 air traffic controllers at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Miami, Florida, United States of America.
Auyo said:Â Â â€œThe management of NAMA is very grateful for the approval of its global training plan totaling US$2.343 million so far for the current year.
â€œWe are assuring the supervising team that NAMA will not only exhaust the projected funds, but will equally request for additional funds for the highly required capacity building needs of the agency, more so that the federal government has slashed the budgetary provision of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies for 2010 by 45 percent.â€
Auyo informed the team that NAMA had put in its rolling plans capital projects aimed at gradually transiting its operations from the present terrestrial-based systems to satellite-based systems, comprising Communications, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management(CNS/ATM) with Performance-Based Navigation(PBN) as a key requirement.
He listed such projects for 2010 as final completion of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria(TRACON); VCSS project cat B and C airports;WGS-84; total VHF coverage ; AIS Automation project and installations of navigational aids, such as-ILS, DME,CVOR, amongst others.
Based on the appeal, leader of the World Bank team, Mrs. Noro Rabefaniraka, promised to assist the agency convince the U.S. Embassy that those pencilled down for programmes on World bankâ€™s assisted project in Nigeria were no threats to the U.S.
Rabefaniraka, who is a senior transport specialist attached to Madagascar Country Office of the World Bank, assured NAMA of the readiness of her team to assist and cooperateÂ in the areas of urgent importance that would assist in adding values to the services being provided, especially those that are critical to safety and security in the aviation industry.