By Gboyega Adeoye
Some revelation on how the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) achieved its orchestrated N1.3trn revenue came to fore recently as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) stated that it did not get the waiver it requested from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to clear the CAT111 navigation aids equipment from the Lagos seaport.
The NAMA Managing Director, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu made the revelation while briefing newsmen in Lagos, stressing that the Airspace management Authority actually paid over N100 million, before being allowed to clear the imported equipment worth about one billion Naira.
He said, “CATIII is a modern Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach used in low visibility weather condition. They are specialised instruments installed at airports to assist pilots to fly at almost zero visibility.”
The NAMA on Jan. 9 had said that the idea behind the installation of CAT III instrument landing systems in strategic airports was borne out of the need to enhance safety.
NAMA’s General Manager, Mr Kalid Emele, in a statement added that the installation would also ensure efficiency, access and seamlessness of flight operations in the airspace, especially, during the harmattan.
Akinkuotu who hinted that they had earlier pursued Customs management for waivers, further explained that the equipment had lay fallow at the seaport, for about six months, before they were eventually cleared and deployed in the last quarter of 2019.
He emphasised that NAMA as a government agency had applied for duty waiver from NCS to clear the critical safety equipment and was denied.
“However, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), declined the request, despite the duty waivers granted the aviation industry by the Federal Government.
“The equipment was at the seaport for some few months because of issues of customs duty, application for duty waiver and others, but we had cleared them and they had been installed.
“We didn’t get waivers for the equipment and we had to pay hundreds of millions of naira for the clearance of the ILS.
“They are part of the automation project. They are mobile potable cabins that contain the one-stop Aeronautical Information Service (AIS),” he said.
He said that the automation equipment were installed in Lagos, Jos and Ilorin airports, adding that the agency was gradually upgrading the facilities at the nation’s airports and stations.
He said that the agency was asked not to include the clearance fees for the equipment in the 2018 budget and was assured that as a government agency the equipment would be granted waiver.
Akinkuotu also said that NAMA had installed the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) in Jos and Enugu airports in order to improve the radio networks in those parts of the country.
On the inclement weather, the NAMA boss assured the flying public that the agency would continue to install more Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at the nation’s airports .
Akinkuotu said any navigation aids that required calibration would be done as at when due, saying this would further improve service delivery by airlines to their clients.