The Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has called on the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to accelerate the confirmation of the Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Matthew Lawrence Pwajok, as the substantive head of the agency.
Speaking during his welcome address at the association’s 51st annual general meeting/conference, which was held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the President of NATCA, Abayomi Agoro, said his association was impressed by the performance of the new management team in NAMA led by Pwajok and put in place by Sirika, stressing that “we speak for the majority of our members in soliciting that the Minister of Aviation graciously extends his usual Midas touch in seeking the confirmation of Mr. Matthew Lawrence Pwajok as the substantive Managing Director/Chief Executive of NAMA.”
Agoro, who lauded the new management team under Pwajok for the progress being made in the upgrade of navigational infrastructure across the country, noted that “the Air Traffic Controller remained the centerpiece in the changes and improvements being made in NAMA with the introduction of new procedures and even the deployment of newer solutions.”
Earlier in his remarks, Pwajok said as part of management’s response to the “unacceptable increase in mortality rate among Air Traffic Controllers” and as a measure to “arrest incidences of fatal health issues among controllers,” the agency recently implemented the health insurance scheme for workers just as it was committed to increasing the medical allowances of NATCA members.
Pwajok, who was represented by the Director of Operations, M.r Haske Jibrin, stated that despite the challenging fiscal environment, management had conducted more professional, operational and specialized training for controllers lately.
He recalled that 16 Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) were trained in Basic Procedure Design and Airspace Planning in Cairo in the first quarter of 2022, just as 12 ATCOs were also trained in Nairobi, Kenya in Search and Rescue Mission Operation at about the same time, and another eight ATCOs, who were in the Czech Republic for the Multilateration (MLAT) operational training much earlier in the year (2022).
The NAMA boss said all these trainings were part of the requirements for the development of capacity for the production of maps and charts including Visual Flight Rules (VFR) charts, in an effort to achieve seamless conduct of the ICAO Universal Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP).
He also noted that as part of the agency’s strategic plan to ensure total voice and data communication coverage for the oceanic and remote continental parts of the Nigerian airspace, as well as sequential management of arrival and departure of air traffic at the terminal phase of flight, NAMA had trained 16 ATCOs in Phase II of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC) in Paris, France while an additional 12 are to undergo Search and Rescue Mission Coordinators’ Training course in Nairobi, Kenya.
Meanwhile, a total of nine newly rated and licensed Air Traffic Controllers have been inducted by NATCA as full-fledged members of the association.
They include five NAMA staff, three Army officers (to provide air traffic services at the air wing of the Nigerian Army) and one Air Force officer.