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NAMA: Hope of AIS automation dashed

…As customs demand govt waiver on N1bn equipment for clearance

Chukwuemeke Iwelunmo

The hope of members of the Aeronautical Information Management Association of Nigeria (AIMAN) having its AIS automation implemented may have been dashed as the Nigerian Customs Service has refused to release imported equipment demanding government’s waiver on it at the seaport.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt Fola Akinkuotu who disclosed this in an address at the 2019 AIS Day expressed fear that the equipment may get rust and obsolete if not cleared now.

Capt Akinkuotu who was represented by the director of operations in NAMA, Mr Mathew Lawrence Pwajok said the agency was asked not to include the clearance fees for the equipment in last year’s budget as a government critical agency that the equipment will be granted a waiver.

The equipment was gathered was procured for about N1billin last year and is required to be cleared with about N100m

According to the MD, the waiver from the government was requested for by the customs and was turned down following their inability to produce it last month when the agency went for clearance adding, that waivers only applied to aircraft parts.

Akinkuotu lamented that the agency was back to square one again thereby dashing the hope of the automation of the AIS in the country after ten years of foot-dragging on the project.

He, however, stated that the set back will not affect the automation of the AIS as the minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika was working tirelessly to ensure that the project was implemented.

Akinkuotu added that the minister of State for Aviation will employ necessary means to ensure that the equipment was cleared from the wharf.

He expressed concern over the few numbers of AIS personnel that has been trained adding, that it was not encouraging compared to the number they have in the agency.

President, Aeronautical Information Management Association of Nigeria AIMAN Mr Williams Ngerem while speaking, called on the Minister of state, aviation to approve a special intervention fund for the speedy completion of the automation project in order to ensure enhanced safety and efficiency in the Nigerian Airspace and to bring Nigeria at par with other Western and African nation’s that have made laudable advancement s in this regard.

He noted that despite steps taken so far to deliver the project, there were challenges that needed to be addressed as quickly as possible.

Ngerem said, unfortunately, no AIS personnel had been trained on AIXM to understand the basic concept and technicalities involved.

He regretted that despite the importance of AIS to air safety, the Aeronautical Message Handling System AMHS), which was the gateway that the AIS Automation would ride on had been discovered that the factory acceptance test was yet to be carried out.

According to him, out of the 245 AIS personnel in NAMA, only 13 AIS staff were trained on the Avitech software against the average 200 personals required to run the Automation.

“There is, therefore, a serious need for more training of AIS personnel towards the transition from AIS to AIM to meet the required standards. A conducive working the environment is equally crucial to the automation project as this will play a key role in ensuring the highest performance and professionalism of personnel.”

The theme for the World AIS Day is, “The benefits of the Automation of the Aeronautical Information Management.”

In his speech the acting general manager AIS Mallam Kabir Yahaya Gusau, said the milestone that AIS was able to achieve will be a mirage without the favourable disposition of the NAMA boss and management team towards AIS personnel.

Gusau called for the engagement of more personnel and their retraining nationwide adding, that the completion of AIS automation should be carried out as required by the International Civil Aviation Authority.