Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) in Nigeria on Sunday cried out over “dilapidated navigational equipment” at most airports in the country.
The ATCs under the aegis of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), said the situation posed a threat to air safety.
They also claimed that the Kaduna International Airport had no control tower which would aid safe aircraft navigation.
The President of NATCA, Yomi Agoro, in a chat with newsmen at the weekend, said what existed at the Kaduna airport was a watch room used by other aviation personnel and not a control tower exclusive for air traffic controllers.
He also said other airports in the country lacked the necessary equipment for seamless navigation.
He explained that “Some airports do not even have functioning equipment. Even Kaduna does not have a control tower. What they are using there is a watch room (for firefighters), which is not built for that purpose, and we have been calling on the government to do something.
“We go to Sokoto, once it rains today, controllers will go to look for umbrellas to sit at the control tower, and what is it, some of the control towers attached to the terminal buildings were ceded to FAAN, while those standing alone were with NAMA, but we have approached the two organisations.
“We are still battling with terrestrial radio frequency, communication here and there. Calabar is there; there is no airport you will go to today that you would say things are working 80 per cent.”
NAMA had recently employed and trained 40 new controllers, but NATCA said the number was too low to meet the shortfall.
However, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt Fola Akinkuotu, told Daily Trust that the claims were not true.
He said the federal government had invested hugely in improving navigational aids and aiding safe flight operations.
He said, “It is mere politics. The government has spent so much in the recent past in improving aviation infrastructure. I am saying this not because I am the MD of NAMA.
“If you want to hear the truth, my suggestion has always been, ask the people on the streets, ask the people in NAMA, they would tell you, they have never had it so good under this administration. It is painful that people would be talking this way.
“We never had a Category Three (CAT3), this government put two in place, two others are coming. Government has just spent N1.7bn on a mobile control tower. Also there is an ongoing revitalisation of the safe tower. We are revamping the TRACON (Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria) system. Other sectors should be jealous of us.”