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ATCs expose rot in Nigeria’s airports’ control towers, say air traffic chiefs

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*’Kaduna has none’

John Okoh

Members of the Nigeria Air traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) have decried the deplorable conditions in airports control towers across the country.

NATCA, however, pointed out that there is no control tower in Kaduna airport to navigate the airlines, even as they have disclosed that airports such as, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto , Calabar among other aerodromes does not have up to 80 per cent functioning equipment.

President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Abayomi Agoro who alongside his team played host to some aviation correspondents revealed these shocking realities from the lack of a control tower at the Kaduna Airport to lack of an urinary system at the Katsina control tower and failed equipment in Kano stressing that ATCs bear the brunt of the dilapidated system.

Due to this huge gap, the NATCA members projected that the nation would be needing no fewer than 650 controllers nationwide to meet the needs of existing and new airports popping up, adding that this is because Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) employs over 4000 staff of which the core professional is less than 400, inadequate to meet present needs

According to Agoro, the working environment is becoming deplorable… I said any of your members are free to walk into our working facilities you’d get an on the spot assessment, as I am talking to you now, some airports do not even have functioning equipment.
Even the Kaduna we are talking about, Kaduna does not have control tower what they are using there is watch room (for firefighters) which is not built for that purpose and we have been calling on the government to do something, we go to Sokoto, once it rains today controllers will go to look for umbrellas to sit at the control tower and what is it?

“Some of the control towers attached to the terminal buildings were ceded to FAAN while those standing alone were with NAMA but we have approached the two organization just like the lift too, NAMA will be waiting for FAAN to put it in order FAAN will say is it our staff that are working there?

And that is because of that bureaucracy and you now discover controllers will continue to suffer.”

Agoro said they were still battling with terrestrial radio frequency, communication here and there adding that Calabar was also having similar problem stressing that there was no airport today that things were working 80 per cent.

Buttressing his point on Katsina airport expressed dismay at the working conditions thereof which he said there was no system to answer nature’s call unless the ATC left the building which would be a breach of professional ethics.

According to the NATCA boss ,” In addition, you mentioned Katsina, Katsina today where you have a one-man watch and there is no facility for him to go and ease himself he is a human being, just to urinate, are we saying he is going to get a bottle?

Or descend the tower? If he descends, he is in breach of his professional ethics so what do you expect that person to do?

In Katsina no restroom was provided, nothing, we are not just making claims, all these are verifiable these are facts that are there.

On Kano he said, “Also you mentioned Kano, Kano fine building, that all. The facilities inside unfortunately is a failure.

Verify everything we say everything we mentioned here, we are not being emotional we are angry because if the system demands I put my whole life into it, I expect the system to provide me the working tools to be able to do that.

I’ve not spent close to two-year ab-initio in the training school for me to qualify as a professional for me to be frustrated by a system that does not want me to give my best.”

According to the NATCA President, the Federal Government is allocating money, NAMA also generates money but he is confused as to where these monies are going as nothing is being touched or improved upon in the towers.

“Things are not okay. Our members are also telling us that we are not doing what is expected of us. Do you know that if you get to some control towers ordinary chairs to sit, we have to go and beg.

This year I have met the NAMA management asking them that ordinary chairs we can’t have for controllers who will sit 6-12 hours are you saying this persons will not have back pains and again these people have climbed the multitude of stairs because the elevators are not there or don’t work, it’s not ideal.

Even when our members complain to us, we are in tears we don’t know what to say,” the president said.

On staff strength of ATCs nationwide and the impending workload Agoro said it was shameful that NAMA has gone on to employ everyone but the core professionals in the critical areas who are needed to do the job stating that even as there are lack of ATCs, redundant staff are sitting while collecting money for doing nothing only to run one week in, one week out shifts.

Agoro said, “we should have at least 600 to 650 because let me also tell you there is no point in leaving one controller on duty in the tower, it is dangerous and we must say it and while a station like Kaduna has less than 6 Air traffic controllers definitely, they will work only one per shift but I can tell you that NAMA has close to 4,000 staff.

“Even in some department you see them drawing a roster,’ if you come this week don’t come next week’ so what are we trying to say? NAMA at a point we tried to do internal recruitment just to see whether we can bring some of these redundant staff and train them at least it would help the system but they don’t want, and those who agreed to convert they are regretting today.

Many of the seven, eight years they’ve been in one place which is a great discouragement to others who would want to, and what is NAMA HR trying to do?

“They are asking who asked you to convert and go there. They are now our members but many of them are regretting, is that how an organization should be? And people come to work day in day out doing nothing and after sitting down they are paid.

They have brought so many people in the agency who are not meaningfully engaged all they just do is to sit down and we are talking about a critical area where we have gap.”

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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