Air Traffic Controllers down tools for 2 days, issue two-week ultimatum to NAMA over working environment

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) in Abuja have resolved to embark on a three-hours flow control for two days, beginning from November 23 to 24, 2021 from 06:00UTC to 09:00UTC to register its displeasure over the current working environment of operatives.

ATCs

This is also as the air traffic controllers called on relevant authorities to quickly address their concerns without further delay or risk the total withdrawal of their services nationwide.

The decision is informed by the death of an air traffic controller, Aniekan Inuk Effiong, who died Monday while at work.

A flow control is a traffic flow management technique used in order to regulate the rate at which aircraft enter congested resources such as airport airspace to a level no greater than the resource can accept.

The workers, under the aegis of the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA) in a statement issued after an emergency meeting following the death of Effiong lamented that ATCs have lost nine of their colleagues in two years following the reluctance of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to address the glaring challenges.

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Describing the death of Effiong as painful and avoidable, NATCA said in an 11-point  demand to NAMA signed by National President, Abayomi Agoro and General Secretary, Rev. Agbonlahor Felix, that it has given the agency a two-week ultimatum to address the issues after which industrial harmony can no longer be guaranteed.

“That fully dedicated operational vehicles be provided to Air Traffic Control for the four major airports in Nigeria (Abuja Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano) and to any other airport where ATC operational vehicle is critically needed.

“That ATC Operational rooms are provided with adequate and quality ATC operational chairs and headsets.

“That at least 500 ATCOs be recruited to address the critical dearth in ATC manpower within the next two years starting with 70 recruits within the next three (3) months.

“Approve and implement a 500% upward review of the annual ATC medical allowance to enable ATCOs carry out comprehensive medical assessment among others. That all Air Traffic controllers be enrolled in an enhanced comprehensive health and life insurance schemes that will meet their health needs. That a standard medical emergency kits be provided at all ATC units and a yearly Health Safety Environment (HSE) training programs for ATCOs be conducted.

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“That all ATC communication facilities and equipment, most especially,  the VHF radios and SATCOM links be holistically rectified in other to address the perennial communication problems encountered in Nigerian airspace.  That the staff deployed to ATC from other departments who have been stagnated on the same grade level for over seven (7) years be placed on their appropriate grade levels having fulfilled all requirements to be Air Traffic Controllers.

“That all appropriate managements should immediately approve and implement an upward review of the remunerations of contract ATCOs to make for them to earn Aerodrome and Approach rating allowances.

“That the appropriate management should immediately liaise with the Federal Ministry of Aviation and other relevant government bodies to correct the anomalies observed in the recently approved ATC Scheme of Service to allow for implementation in a bid to eliminate the stagnation of Air Traffic Controllers. That the appropriate management should immediately liaise with the Federal Ministry of Aviation and relevant government bodies to ensure ATCOs retire with their full monthly salary as pension,” the demands read.

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According to the NATCA leadership, the consequences of failure to meet these conditions on or before two weeks would be severe.

It would be recalled that NAMA, last Monday, announced the passing of Mr Aniekan Inuk Effiong, an Assistant General Manager, Operations and air traffic controller with the agency, at Abuja station.

Effiong reported to duty at the Abuja Approach Radar Control (TRACON) on the 21st of November 2021 (Monday) at 6pm without any sign of illness whatsoever.

“He was to close by 7am the next day (today). However, at about 4am this morning, he experienced difficulty in breathing. FAAN ambulance was called to evacuate him to the nearest medical facility. He was immediately taken to the Air Force base clinic where he died,” NAMA said.

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