Aviation agencies bloated, can’t implement capital projects – Senate

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It was gathered that the Senate Committee on Aviation on Thursday declared that several agencies under the Air Transport Sector of the Federal Ministry of Transportation were bloated in terms of their workforce.

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According to the committee, this is unsustainable as the agencies under the Aviation ministry devote their entire budgetary allocations to the payment of salaries and overhead costs without executing any capital project.

Speaking during an oversight function at the headquarters of the Aviation ministry in Abuja, the Chairman of the committee, Adamu Halilu, said, “Most of the agencies we have inspected are over staffed. They have a budget that goes only for salaries and overhead costs. This is not good for a developing country like Nigeria.”

He said the Senate was in support of the restructuring of the ministry and its agencies to ensure that they performed their constitutional roles, stressing that the sector was critical to the nation and could not be allowed to derail.

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“We understand that some equipment have been bought to enhance security at the airports but have not been installed. We will go and inspect them. Whatever the issues are, these pieces of equipment have been bought with taxpayers’ money and should be deployed; and if there are issues, they can be raised later,” Halilu stated.

The committee also used the opportunity to back the clamour for the establishment of a national carrier for the country and proposed a public-private partnership model for the airline.

On the 2016 budget performance of the ministry, the committee expressed satisfaction with the 73 per cent implementation of the personnel component and 83 per cent for overhead, but expressed reservation about the 39 per cent implementation of the capital component.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, told the senators that “we are currently developing specific policies that will ensure the development of the sector in line with global trends.”

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Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority will on Monday, November 21, 2016 hold a stakeholders’ meeting to articulate the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Remotely Piloted Aircraft, otherwise known as drones, in the country’s airspace.

The NCAA, in a statement by its General Manager, Public Relations, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, on Thursday in Lagos, said the meeting was being organised in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser.

It said the meeting, scheduled to hold in Abuja, was a mandatory exercise for all stakeholders in the interest of safer skies.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the regulatory body noted that there had been lots of interest shown in the civil use of drones in the country.

According to the statement, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has yet to publish standards and recommended practices for the certification and operation of drones.

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Adurogboye stated, “The NCAA has put in place the regulations/advisory circular for certification and operation for the use of civil Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Remotely Piloted Aircraft in the Nigerian airspace through the Nig CARs (Part 8.8.1.33) and implementing standards.

“Owing to the importance attached to this meeting, participants will be drawn from the military, the Federal Ministry of Aviation and its parastatals/agencies, flying clubs, tour operators, media practitioners and neighbouring African countries.

“Others are the film making industry (Nollywood), National Assembly (Aviation committees) and sports organisations.”

The NCAA said discussions would centre on safety implications, risk assessment, oversight, regulations and certification of drones.

The stakeholders’ meeting has become necessary since the civil operation of RPA/UAV will require approval/permit from the NCAA and the ONSA, the statement added.

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