The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) has acquired new radar components for the Doppler weather radar system, which will further enhance safety in the Nigerian airspace.
The agency also said that it intends to ensure 80 percent total coverage of the country by June this year with the installation of the new components.
Speaking with aviation journalists in Lagos during the week, the Director-General, NiMET, Prof. Sani Mashi, said that the contract for the new components costs the agency about N400 million to acquire.
He explained that when the entire project was awarded in 2007, it cost the country about N2.7 billion, while with the installation of the radar components, the Federal Government would have spent additional N100 million more, but regretted that the sum had risen to N400 million by 2019.
NiMET, he explained was able to get a special allocation from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) arrangement through the intervention of the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, to fund the project.
Mashi hinted that the components for the radar system were delivered last week and ferried to their different locations for installations.
According to him, the components would be installed in Ikeja (Lagos Airport) and Kano Airport, stressing that as soon as the installation was done, the American company awarded the contract would then mount the radar on it.
According to him, “When the contract was designed in 2007, there was a designed problem. The radar was supposed to be mounted on top of a tower. At Kano and Lagos locations, there were towers that were erected in 1974. So, the contract was designed in such a way that rather than constructing a new tower, those old towers of 1974 would be used so to save more money. That was how the project was under-designed.
“So, when I took over, I discovered the project got stalled. The contractors inspected the towers and came back with a report that the towers were so weak and they can’t hoist anything because of the heavy load. The weight of the tower is about 12 tonnes. So, they said it had to be because it was not part of the original contract, they said there was nothing they could do.
“The components have been delivered last week and they are in Ikeja and Kano. We are going to erect them. Already they have delivered the towers in these two locations. So, as soon as we finish the installation, which will just take about two months, the Americans who were doing the contract will now come and mount the radar on top.”
Mashi emphasised that with the installation of the components, Nigeria would by June, achieving 80 percent of its airspace coverage, adding that the agency had earlier installed the same equipment in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
According to him, “You know Doppler Radar System is an instrument that major characteristics of precipitation and as you know, precipitation, storm intensity, storm direction, and other things can affect flight and operations, which means that with us now in a position to measure so much characteristics of precipitation, we will now be in a position to have adequate information that will help us to ensure that planning operations are made quite safe, and sustainable within the country. That is a major breakthrough.”