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Total radar coverage of Nigeria for upgrade 12 years after

To improve the country’s airspace, the federal government through the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has approved the upgrade of the Total Radar Coverage of…

To improve the country’s airspace, the federal government through the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has approved the upgrade of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) project.

The planned upgrade of TRACON commissioned 12 years ago would cost N23bn while the Safe Tower Project (STP) and the Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) system, a surveillance facility to cover the Gulf of Guinea would cost N13bn and $12.9 million (N5.5bn at N433 to a dollar) respectively.

The TRACON project is a major facility, which has eased air navigation and the surveillance of the Nigerian airspace and also enabled real-time search and rescue operations within the country’s airspace.

Under the STP, the agency intends to upgrade the air traffic management system, surveillance system, and meteorological system in the four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

The Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Mr. Mathew Lawrence Pwajok in an interview with newsmen at the weekend disclosed that TRACON on completion 12 years ago had a five-year maintenance pact with Thales of France, its manufacturers which has since elapsed.

He stated that in order to save cost, NAMA handed over the maintenance to its indigenous engineers, which had saved the federal government billions of naira.

He said, “A whole lot of money has been saved through that action of our engineers to keep the system running. There had been significant improvement in traffic management with the radar. With this radar, we can see traffic up to Accra, Yaounde, Malabo, and many other places”.

He said that out of the N23 billion, N17 billion would be expended on system upgrade, which includes the radar itself while N5bn would be spent on upgrading the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT).

VSAT is a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna that is smaller than 3.8 meters. It is used to transmit/receive data, voice and video signals over a satellite communication network, excluding broadcast television.

“The upgrade of TRACON is ongoing, since 2010, we have not been able to upgrade to the top sky, the upgrade is expected to improve the functionality and efficiency of the system, it will become automated, and they will begin to issue information electronically thereby reducing the workload and pressure on Air Traffic Controllers [ATCos] and pilots. The upgrade will cover the entire nation, the nine locations of TRACON. This is all to improve the safety, efficiency and capacity of the airspace”, he said.

On the Safe Tower Project, Pwajok said the systems are due for an upgrade to close all gaps before the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit of Nigeria’s aviation by the first quarter of 2023.

He further disclosed that most of the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at virtually all Nigerian airports are obsolete, saying the agency would replace all the equipment to at least category 2 ILS.

“We have done category 2 ILS in at least ten airports. ILS has been installed in Enugu, Sokoto, and Abuja. Category 2 was done at Lagos airport 18/R. We have done the same in Akure, Ilorin, and many other places. We have category three ILS in Katsina, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja. We have completed satellite navigation for backup in the event of power failure”.

For the multilateration project, the NAMA boss said, “The project is over 80 per cent completed, systems are being deployed and we are very hopeful it will become operational by the end of the year or early next year, this project drew attention to something very vital.

“I was expected to be part of the scope when it was conceived way back from 2015, the Gulf of Guinea has been a very troubled zone, it is known worldwide for fire-raising, bunkering and other criminal activities,” he added.

He stressed that the mutlilateration was borne out of the need to ensure surveillance for both maritime and aviation.


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