The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) says it is finding it difficult getting spares to maintain the country’s Total Radar Coverage (TRACON) equipment in the nation’s airports, raising fears that the facility might have broken down.
The TRACON project was launched in 2003 following incidences of disappearances of aircraft to replace the old radar which had become obsolete and was no longer effectively capturing flying objects in Nigeria’s airspace, but it was eventually completed in 2010 at a huge sum of 66,500,870 million euros paid by the Federal Government.
Speaking, on Tuesday, at the Stakeholders Interactive Forum organised by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Director of Safety Electronics and Engineering Services for the agency, Mr. Farouk Umar, said management could no longer access spare parts from the manufacturer, Thales of France (as stipulated in the contractual agreement) to maintain the TRACON facility.
“All efforts to source spare parts for the replacement of some of the bad equipment from the manufacturer has proved abortive,” Umar said as he lamented that the situation had been like that since 2014, barely four years after the project came on stream.
Umar said aside NAMA operating the TRACON equipment without spares from the manufacturers, the facility was also due for upgrade to latest technology in use globally.
Umar, therefore, sought for the intervention of the Federal Government to prevail on Thales of France to adhere strictly to the terms of contract as entered into with the Nigeria government, saying the French firm’s breach of the initial agreement to provide spares posed great danger to the nation’s airspace.
The TRACON facility enables the monitoring of aircraft movements by air traffic controllers in any part of the country from any of the control towers sited in any airport.
Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, who also spoke at the event, said that in a bid to enhance air safety and radio communications between pilots and control towers within the country’s airspace, NAMA, has installed Very High Frequency (VHF) radios across 17 airports in Nigeria.
Akinkuotu said that the installation of VHF radios in 17 airports for approach and aerodrome control was part of the short term approach of the current management in the agency to boost air navigation safety in the country.
Some of the airports equipped with the facility included Owerri, Enugu, Kaduna, Ibadan, Katsina, Sokoto, Maiduguri and Akure. Others are Asaba, Dutse, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Gombe and Calabar airports.