NAVAIDs Calibration: Cost not a factor for awarding contract to Omni-Blu—NAMA MD

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*Chairman, League of Airport and Aviation Correspondent (LAAC), Mr. Segun Koiki; managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu; general manager public affairs, NAMA, Mr. Khalid Emele and head media and publicity unit, public affairs, NAMA, Mr. Stephen Onabe, during the Gateway Forum at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.

The managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu has said that cost was not a key consideration in awarding contract for the calibration of navigation aids to Omni-Blu Aviation Ltd instead of the agency’s age-long customer, Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA).

Speaking in Lagos at Gateway Forum organised by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), Akinkuotu said Omni-Blu is a Nigerian company working in partnership with a British firm adding that as of the time NAMA wanted to calibrate some airports in the country, ASECNA’s equipment were down.

“Omni-Blu is a Nigerian company, working in partnership with a British company. Are they registered? They are registered and approved. Was Finance an issue? Finance was never an issue; it was a matter of a decision and we evaluated Omni-Blu to provide the right services. So they are not cheaper. But why did we migrate? There is no bias here and it’s not like we abandoned ASECNA.”

“At the time when we required to do calibration, ASECNA’s aircraft were undergoing maintenance. They were not available so we had no option but to look for qualified calibrator to come in. Fortunately Omni-Blu being a Nigerian company, met the requirement and they were chosen, it wasn’t an issue of money, it was a question of you need to calibrate at certain times and some require you calibrate every six months, some require you calibrate annually so the point is we cannot wait for ASECNA to be ready.”

“I give you an example, Kaduna airport had to install and calibrate and at that time ASECNA could not provide us. I called them, I begged but they did not have an aircraft…and of course you always look at options,” he said.

Contagion Thereafter, he said the airlines were hugely indebted to NAMA although he could not put any figure to the debts.

“It runs into millions. It’s huge and it’s not only in naira and kobo, it is in foreign currency, it’s huge,” said Akinkuotu.

However, the NAMA chief said the debtors were working towards the defraying the debts.

“Our customers want instrument landing systems CAT 3; they want to speak with us as if they are next door, it costs money. NAMA is not a profit-making organisation; it is a cost recovery organisation. So really, as much as we understand their financial situation, but for us to continue to provide better service, they should please pay for services we have rendered. A workman deserves his wages.

“You talked about pay as you fly; we still have it in the system and we still apply it when necessary. But having seen both sides of it, being a regulator and now a service provider, we like to keep in mind one customer who has a voice but is not heard enough: the passenger. The passenger is the reason we are all here and quite often, we don’t address their problem. A pay as you go sounds easy for us but it is not so good for the operators and that is why we don’t use it on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

On training, he said there is a need to train, to continue training and to retrain.

“For me the idea of people being trained and being retrained is essential. Being exposed to new information on whatever is happening around us. So in NAMA I couldn’t help but focus on training. In one year, I have heard that my people are happy that they have got more training than they got in five years which I am truly happy about.

“It is not my money; it is the money that they have made which we should use to educate them so that they can do their job better,” he said.

As a pilot and trainer, he described as “essential” the idea of people being trained and re-trained.

 

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