Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu has said the regulatory body is doing all within its means to tackle the challenge of shortage of technical personnel like safety and airworthiness inspectors to meet the growing air transport demand in the country.
Speaking to the media at the NCAA Regional headquarters in Lagos, the DG explained that the industry in Nigeria despite the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic has improved with new airlines coming into the party and existing ones increasing capacity.
According to him, this has brought about better connectivity especially with most state government’s building airport infrastructure but stated that with growth comes the strain on a system that needs more surveillance and better monitoring but without the technical personnel to do so.
Captain Nuhu said, ”The Covid-19 has really changed our industry significantly in all manners which is not peculiar to Nigeria it is global matter but also right here in Nigeria the industry is growing. We have more airlines coming up and even the existing airlines are expanding their operations you can see them ordering more aircraft, expanding their operations.
“The connectivity in the country has improved significantly and it is going to get much better as you can almost travel from any part of the country to any other part; we are almost at that point. Like the days of Nigerian Airways, when you can go from anywhere yo anywhere, even now its getting better, I can travel from Asaba to Kano from Port Harcourt to Kano, I can travel to Sokoto, Bauchi, Gombe, it’s really amazing.
“We have airports, a lot of state governments are building and we have airports popping up all over the place so with that, it has increased the span of activities and responsibilities of the NCAA as the regulator of the industry.
On the need for technical personnel and the CAA’s inability to compete financially with operators over retaining some of the young vibrant personnel Nuhu said: “Our Surveillance program has increased it has put a lot of eyes on us, the workload has significantly increased and this might get worse as time goes, that has put a lot of stress on us and issues professional personnel is one of the biggest challenges we have.
“We the appropriate staff, train them, retrain them but its a bit of a difficult scenario. Like the flight operations inspectors ,these are airline pilots and no one is going to leave his airline to earn 20 or 30% of his/her salaries “At the end of the day what happens? We get pilots that are retired and I think we need to have a mixture of young inspectors and retired inspectors, We want to have the right mixture but it is very difficult for us to attract the young guys because we cannot compete with what the industry is paying.
“And also the issue of air worthiness inspectors, we have inspectors they come work for us for like 8 years they get all the training, they get all the experience and the next thing they tell you bye-bye, somebody is doubling, tripling and quadrupling their salary so it’s a very difficult situation we find ourselves in. According to the DG however, the CAA is talking with the ministry in a bid to find a lasting solution to the challenges stating that one way is by getting the Conditions of Service (CoS) approved to help retain these technical personnel.
” We have been talking to the Ministry and we have gotten approval to see how we can improve pour conditions of service subject to approval of the appropriate government agency so we can be able to attract and retain the core technical personnel. NCAA is technical in nature, our core competence is technical. We are working on that, we hope sometime soon, we would be able to get a handle of that, he assured.