Tackling unhealthy rivalry between ATC and NAAE

OBVIOUSLY, all is not well with the various professional bodies constituting the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) establishment.

Among the professional bodies are; the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), responsible for adequate separation of aircraft during landing and take-off to avoid any collisions or accidents.

Another body is made up of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE), on whose shoulder lies the responsibilities of carrying out routine maintenance servicing, support and fault rectification of a wide range of electrical, electromechanical, electronic, and airfield (AGL and ATE) systems and infrastructure within the airfield, airport buildings and its confines, in line with departmental documentation, procedures and Safety Management System (SMS).

Aeronautical Information Services Association of Nigeria (AISAN) is another body responsible for providing some of the critical information required for safe operation of the National Airspace System (NAS).

Besides these, there are many other professional bodies carrying out different critical roles of ensuring NAMA carries out its functions of making the country’s airspace safe and secure for flight operations.

In other words, each of the bodies contributes its own role without which there will be lacuna in the overall statutory functions of NAMA.

Without doubt, each of the professional bodies cannot work in isolation of the others as their functions overlap with one another for the general well being of air safety.

As a result of these critical conditions, these groups of professionals require adequate attention ranging from good conditions of service, risk allowances, friendly environment, amongst others, to operate optimally.

Though NAMA as an agency of government, had to an extent, carried out the sensitive role of meeting the needs of these bodies, but not without some hiccups which had been responsible for the recurrent issue of bickering among the bodies.

It is therefore no longer news that presently, there is ongoing bad blood between the NAMA management and the Air Traffic Engineers over pay disparity between its members and Air Traffic Controllers.

The Air Traffic Controllers had for years clamoured for a better condition of service in view of the critical role they play with its huge mental effects and other health hazards on them.

It took them a serious warning to shut down the airspace recently until the leadership of the present management approved a new condition of service for them.

Not quite long, the Air Traffic Engineers have now come out to challenge the rationale behind the management singling out the Air Traffic Controllers for pay increase, therefore, threatening a showdown if the agency failed to meet their demands.

Like the Air Traffic Engineers, for sure, other bodies are on the queue to voice out their demands and this means a great deal of challenge ahead for the management.

It is on record that right from the establishment of NAMA, there has always been rivalry between the professional bodies especially the Air Traffic Controllers and Air Traffic Engineers with each body claiming superiority and higher importance over the other.

This, however, should not be allowed to linger for too long as they and others need to collaborate to remain relevant.

The onus now falls on the management to use this opportunity to once and for all, address the unnecessary rivalry and the tension by generally reviewing the conditions of service of each of the professional bodies in line with their various international bodies condition of service and Nigeria’s wages commission.

Above all, there is the urgent need for the Air Traffic Controllers and the Air Traffic Engineers to see no side as being superior to the other. Without the engineers working on the equipment, the controllers cannot function, just like other bodies in the agency.

They should stop using their rivalry to create tension in the agency, after all, their counterparts in other parts of the world work in harmony.

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