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NAMA EXPLAINS ALLEGATION OF N13B FRAUD ON RADAR PROJECT

 

The attention of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has been drawn to some spurious allegations being circulated to the media by faceless individuals alleging a N13b fraud on its Radar Project.
 
These allegations as reported by BusinessDay this morning are evidently fraught with lies and these are the latest ploys by the antagonists of the Government’s Transformation Agenda to continue to embarrass the management of the Agency and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
 
However, we would like to make the following submissions in order to put the records straight on the said allegations
 
The TRACON project was awarded to Messrs Thales SA of France on 7th April 2003 at a total cost of 66,500,870 Euros. The Scope of Work includes the provision of modern Air Traffic Management Systems. The initial project duration was 36 months and the coverage areas are nine sites in Nigeria out of which four sites in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt would provide Approach and Area Radar services while the remaining five sites in Maiduguri, Ilorin, Numan, Talata-Mafara and Obubra are en-route MSSR stations.
The TRACON Project was multi-tasking in view of the several deliverables of the project which includes but not limited to the provision of co-located Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) and Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR), EUROCAT C Air Traffic Management System, Voice Communication and Control Switch (VCCS), Emergency VHF, Voice Recording System, Fibre Optics, VSAT network and other ancillaries like UPS, Power systems, AMF etc.
It is important to note that even though Thales as the lead contractor was responsible for the system design and project coordination, the TRACON project itself was implemented by a consortium of global and market leaders in Air Traffic Management (ATM) technology. The Radar and Eurocat Air Traffic Management systems came from Thales Air Systems of France, Voice Switches from Thales and Frequentis AG of Austria, VHF Radios from Park Air Systems of UK, Fibre Optics from SAGEM of France, VSAT equipment from ND SatCom of Germany, Power systems, back-ups and other ancillaries from Chloride and 2H Energy of France. Other components and deliverables of the project as applicable came from the local content (especially civil works for the sites).
It is pertinent to note that the execution of the co-located PSR/MSSR is a project on its own in some countries and Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that had embarked on a project of this nature with several deliverables at once.
It is instructive to further clarify that projects worldwide have globally defined standards for measurement of performance and completion. The several deliverables of the TRACON project passed through all necessary Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs) at the various factories in France, Germany and Austria to ascertain that all specifications were met. These tests were satisfactorily completed working with an ICAO consultant and other industry experts. The allegation that vital components of the project were not supplied behooves of sheer ignorance.
The deliverables were further accepted at the nine sites with the successful completion of the mandatory Site Acceptance Tests (SATs) involving NAMA engineers and Air Traffic Controllers.
Furthermore, projects worldwide at completion never cease to have ‘project issues’ after completion but in the case of the TRACON project, the Agency through the support of the Federal Government was proactive to have entered into a Support Services Agreement with the lead manufacturer, Thales S.A. of France. This Agreement covers all deliverables of the project including, unlimited repairs, spares, trainings and technology transfer through regular OJTs.
The facts above underscore the multi-dimensional aspect of the project and attendant challenges in terms of implementation and subsequent maintenance.
The global trend is to achieve maintenance-on-fastrack devoid of normal bottlenecks encountered in many matrix organizations. The level of technology delivered under the TRACON project requires the support of the subsystems’ manufacturers, especially at the level of the software. The system software of the various subsystems of the TRACON project is proprietary and it is practically impossible to run the subsystems without the support of the software developers.
To respond to the allegations in the media report, the Agency would like to succinctly state as follows:
·         The TRACON project is completed and closed-out going by globally defined axioms of project management
·         There were no missing vital components at any point in course of execution or close-out of the project
·         The Agency trained over 250 Engineers and Air Traffic Controllers in the course of the project as against 96 being touted in the media report and the Support Services Agreement has provision for training of additional 66 engineers
·         The media report was not very informed on what the (RCC) Rescue Co-ordination Centre and (FIC) Flight Information Centre are used for hence the report was unable to distinguish one from the other
·         The VPN (Virtual Private Network) which the report stated is not functional was never a deliverable of the project nor that of the Support Services Agreement
·         There is no engineering proof to support the spurious claim that the non-tropicalization of UPS/AVR had adverse impact on the system as all subsystems of the TRACON project are working perfectly
·         The amount of 700,000 Euro claimed to have been specially provided for as maintenance charges of UPS/AVR in the Support Services Agreement is ridiculous and unfounded as there was no such clause in the contract
·         On the issue of stock taking, it is verifiable that the Agency adopted Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for the TRACON subsystems immediately after commissioning as part of the deliverables of the Support Services Agreement thereby making the allegation erroneous
·         On the Billing Management System (BMS), the BMS was only installed in Lagos and not Lagos and Kano as alleged in the report. The BMS is operational but would only be automated when the AMHS switch for Lagos is supplied and installed under another on-going project (AIS Automation)  
·         The allegation on non-provision of ground-to-ground communication is unfounded as ground-to-ground communication was never part of the TRACON project Scope of Supplies but one of the deliverables of another on-going project known as AIS Automation
·         The allegation of one Generator being supplied to each of the Secondary Radar sites instead of two is incorrect. The contracts terms clearly specified back-up Generator and other ancillaries for the autonomous sites and not two Generators
·         On the two back-up VHF radios for Lagos and Kano, the true situation is that all VHF communication radios scoped as Emergency VHF radios under the TRACON Scope of Supplies were all supplied, installed, tested and commissioned at the Lagos and Kano centers
·         The nine sites are operating at optimum level of functionality and this is verifiable at the various locations across the country
 
Despite the facts above, the management of the Agency wish to make it abundantly clear that the completion of the project has been verified at various times by a Presidential Committee on Project Monitoring and the National Assembly, with the two groups independently endorsing the completion, operations and efficiency of the project.
The truth is that the TRACON project has raised the safety profile of the Nigerian airspace and has led to several global awards including the much-celebrated FAA Category One certification recently given to Nigeria.
We found it preposterous that a Ministerial Committee’s report is now in the public domain while still being studied by the Honourable Minister of Aviation who set up the committee to verify claims by some self-acclaimed industry experts thereby deliberately making a mockery of the entire fact-finding exercise.
It might interest to note that the Agency had already responded officially to the anomalies observed in the Committee’s report and there was never any fraud reported by the committee as the issues raised were strictly technical and operational from the perspectives of the Committee members.
Lastly, we believe facts in journalism are sacrosanct and this informed our advice that a story of this magnitude with gross implications on safety and the nation’s global image should be professional handled and properly verified to avoid unnecessary embarrassment to the Nigerian nation.
We hold BusinessDay editorial team in high esteem and this explains our shock at the content of the report without making efforts to verify from NAMA as it is obvious that the writer, John Osadolor who is familiar with NAMA’s operation, has unlimited access to the management of the Agency but chose to do otherwise without hearing our own side of the story.
We believe this response would be accorded the same editorial priority as done to the earlier report.
 
 
Signed
Management
NAMA Headquarters
Ikeja, Lagos.
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