By Chinelo Obogo
Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) has urged the Federal Government to shift the current civil service rule on retirement at 60 years or 35 years of service by moving it to 65 years and 40 years respectively.
In a communique issued at the end of the 50th Annual General Meeting of NATCA held in Abuja and signed by the President Abayomi Agoro and General Secretary, Agbonlahor Felix, pointed out that the current retirement age has a negative effect on the manpower need of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) as most retiring Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) leave the system with valuable and needed experience while the system suffers acute shortage.
They also said an urgent recruitment of at least 200 ATCOs within the next two years is required to mitigate the acute shortage arising from attrition rate, increasing number of new aerodromes and expansion of air traffic management system in the country.
The association pointed out that the welfare of the air traffic controllers in terms of medical allowances, remuneration and overall working condition such as the NAMA conditions of service and other issues related to welfare of ATCOs in the services of NCAT has lingered for far too long without requisite actions and that in view of the upsurge of insecurity in the country, ATCOs have become vulnerable to attacks, health deterioration due to job overload and the lack of comprehensive medical care at their disposal.
Among other issues discussed at the meeting, the association said that in addition to government’s spending on aviation infrastructure, aviation agencies should be allowed to plough back the revenue generated into improvement of critical infrastructure with emphasis on communication and surveillance.
“Aviation infrastructure, aviation agencies should be allowed to plough back the revenue generated into improvement of critical infrastructure with emphasis on communication and surveillance. Also, the renaming and restructuring of the present Directorate of Operations in NAMA to Directorate of Air Traffic Management, reflects its real functions and is in line with global best practices.
“There should be an urgent recruitment of at least 200 Air Traffic Controllers within the next two years to mitigate the acute shortage arising from attrition rate, increasing number of new aerodromes and expansion of air traffic management system in the country. The Federal Ministry of Aviation should take necessary steps to adjust the retirement age of Air Traffic Controllers in Nigeria to 40 years in service or 65 years of age to mitigate the acute shortage of ATC manpower in the country.
“NAMA should liaise with the Ministry of Aviation and relevant government bodies to correct the anomalies observed in the recently approved scheme of service to allow for implementation in a bid to eliminate stagnation of air traffic controllers. Also, an immediate placement of ATCOs converted from other departments in NAMA should be facilitated,” NATCA said.