Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina and his Permanent Secretary Peter Mwatile clashed on the appointment of the Director of Civil Aviation Angeline Simana-Paulo with the minister advocating that she be appointed on the Civil Aviation Act which makes an independent Director while Mwatile wanted to breach the regulations and have her report to him and his deputy The Villager has uncovered.
While the PS and his deputy Phillip Amunyela were reluctant to contest the blockade by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in line with the Civil Aviation Act, Nghimtina had to stand his ground and request that the Public Service Commission endorse her appointment as failure to give her independence would have seen Namibia being in breach of international aviation rules.
The resultant would have been that Namibia would fail to access certain vital Airspaces including the European Union which is one of the most lucrative tourism destinations for the country.
Nghimtina also authored a letter to Ambassador Eddie Amukongo to rectify the confusion surrounding Simana-Paulo’s appointment as an independent director and the necessity of such an arrangement in international civil aviation laws.
Nghimtina authoåred the letter to Amukongo on 9 July 2014 referenced Confusion with regard to the respective legislation objectives and functions of the Public Service Act of 1995 and the Civil Aviation Act of 1962 which is currently crippling the state response to its obligations in terms of the Chicago Convention and contributing to the endangerment of the state.
The letter by Nghimtina which managed to save the country from being chucked out of the international Air Space was meant to clear the confusion on Simana-Paulo’s role in relation to the normal reporting structure and PSC regulations.
Nghimtina told Amukongo that, “A serious issue has arisen with regard to the appointment of technical personnel in terms of the Public Service Commission Act of 1995. There is currently an absence of understanding of, and hence due regard for, the recommended qualifications and experience requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), this is seriously eroding the state’s responsiveness to its obligations under the Chicago Convention.”
Nghimtina also raised concern that the delay in the appointment of the Director and Air Traffic Controllers was posing a serious threat to the civil aviation industry of the country and the general flying public as a whole.
The Minister indicated in the letter that the Civil Aviation Acts recognises the powers of the Director of Civil Aviation to designate authorised Officers and Inspectors. In practice however none of the currently serving technical personnel undertaking traffic control duties were appointed in terms of these provisions.
“The PSC appointed these persons and an associated desire to control or even protect such persons continues to-date, without due regard for statutory role of the DCA under the Civil Aviation Act. This has resulted in the obvious misapplication of the Civil Aviation Act over the years,” Nghimtina complained.
Nghimtina raised questions that the interference of the state in the appointment of the vital positions was hampering the state’s ability to hold high international aviation rules and practices.
“We are now seeing the unintended consequences of the appointment of poorly qualified technical personnel to positions that require exceptional skills. Even worse is the inability by the directorate to address serious safety breaches by the same personnel. We are now seeing an imminent threat to the Namibian public and the same time seeing unresponsiveness in meeting ICAO recommendations that all states including Namibia must abide by...,” Nghimtina remarked in the letter.
He also raised the concern that the misapplication of the public service act was costing the country dearly and ironically within two months of the letter Namibia’s only international Airport was downgraded and rated very low.
Nghimtina also raised concern that the interference by PSC and his PS was causing heavy safety breaches to the country.
“I am aware of a number of serious related breaches that could have been catastrophic to the state and deplorable safety performances of the Air Traffic Services Unit. However though the directorate has on numerous occasions addressed these concerns with Permanent Secretary and I in turn urged him to take action, this was to no avail,” Nghimtina said.
Nghimtina also raised concern over the poor work the Director of Air Safety Likando who is a close ally of the PS.