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Nigerian aviation workers’ strike fails to shut country’s airspace

The strike called by the aviation workers in the employ of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), to press for higher wages, started off as scheduled on Monday, but failed to shut down the country’s airspace as threatened by the workers.

The two domestic terminals at the country’s main gateway Murtala Muhammed International Airport in the economic capital city of Lagos were open to travellers, and some scheduled flights took off and landed Monday.

At the international wing of the airport, an official of one of the workers’ unions said the strike had paralysed flights, alleging that incoming flights were being diverted to Niger Republic airspace. This could not be independently verified.

Security was tight around the airport, especially at the NAMA headquarters where armed policemen were stationed to prevent the breakdown of law and order.

But in a joint statement, the workers’ unions – Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) – described the strike as a success.

They warned intending passengers not to endanger their lives by flying, arguing that NAMA had only drafted its management staffers to man control towers.

”These management staff do not have the prerequisite validation for various air traffic control service facilities and systems, Aeronautical Information Services, Aeronautical Communications and Air Traffic Engineering Services,” the unions warned.

”This is contrary to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and recommended practices on security and safety,” they said. ”Airlines and Pilots receiving directives and instructions from these category of personnel are doing so at their own risk.”

But NAMA dismissed the unions’ statement, saying the agency’s top staffers deployed to the control towers were well grounded.

”All NAMA personnel are technically sound to do the jobs they are trained and employed to do,” said NAMA spokesman Supo Atobatele, urging the public to ignore the scare-mongering by the unions.


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