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Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Declare Warning Strike over death of colleague



Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association has embarked on a two-day warning strike following the death of their colleague, Aniekan Effiong Inuk, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

This spells an increase in flight delays at the airports. The Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) would space all departures by 20-minute interval at the four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, and Kano.

A statement jointly signed on Tuesday by their President and Secretary, Abayomi Agoro and Agbonlahor Felix, revealed that the group had lost nine members on active service due to stress-related health complications which seemed associated with poor working conditions and inadequate staffing.

“Several appeals to management and other stakeholders in the industry and inactions by appropriate managers on communiqués from the Association’s past Annual General Meetings had failed to address the issues.

“The death of Mr. Aniekan Effiong Inuk on active duty at Abuja airport whose sad event is not unconnected with the unavailability of an operational vehicle to move him to a hospital in record time amongst others is one too many.

“Hence, Air Traffic Controllers are embarking on a three (3) hours flow control for two days, 23rd and 24th November 2021 from 0600UTC to 0900UTC to register our displeasure and call the attention of relevant authorities and the public to quickly address our concerns without further delay,” the statement read in part.

The Association also made a list of demands to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) management and relevant authorities.

They include the following: “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.”

The group sought the approval and implementation of a 500% upward review of the annual ATC medical allowance to enable ATCOs carry out comprehensive medical assessment among others.

They also added that “all Air Traffic controllers be enrolled in an enhanced comprehensive health and life insurance schemes that will meet their health needs.

“That standard medical emergency kits be provided at all ATC units and a yearly Health Safety Environment (HSE) training programs for ATCOs be conducted.

“That all ATC communication facilities and equipment, most especially, the VHF radios and SATCOM links be holistically rectified in order 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.

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“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 association gave an ultimatum of two weeks commencing from the date of the press release for the demands to be addressed otherwise there would be no industrial harmony.

By Ijeoma Ilekanachi

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