By Mathias Haufiku
WINDHOEK - The Director of Civil Aviation Angeline Simana-Paulo has relieved the country’s chief air traffic control officer, Victor Likando, of his duties, but reasons for his removal remain a mystery. Likando was replaced by Philipine Lundama.
A source told New Era that Simana-Paulo and Likando had major disagreements on air traffic control in the country.
The source further narrated that the two do not normally see eye to eye and that Likando would often bypass Simana-Paulo by reporting directly to the Ministry of Works and Transport’s Permanent Secretary, Peter Mwatile, instead of Simana-Paulo who heads the directorate.
Simana-Paulo informed the DCA staff about Likando’s replacement in a ministerial letter titled, “Designation of Ms Phillipine Lundama as Accountable Manager for ATS.”
“At the direction of the Permanent Secretary, Mr Victor Likando has been assigned to other duties within the Ministry of Works and Transport and will not act in the capacity of CATCO until further notice,” reads the signed letter by Simana-Paulo dated 18 July 2014.
It is still unclear as to what role Likando will take up at the ministerial headquarters.
“I have asked Ms Phillipine Lundama to assume responsibilities for management of Air Traffic Services, and I have designated Ms Lundama as an authorised officer in the role of Senior Accountable Manager and Compliance Officer to meet the requirements of Civil Aviation Regulations Part 172,” reads Simana-Paulo’s letter.
The director said she had taken the decision in the interest of restoring public and industry confidence in the provision of air traffic services in Namibia.
“I have asked Ms Lundama to develop a strategy to achieve this goal, and to establish a support team to assist in implementing the strategy,” she said.
Likando has come under immense criticism lately following several air traffic control failures.
A local weekly last week reported that a pilot of the president reported an air traffic control failure while underway with the presidential helicopter from the funeral of the late Herero Chief Kuaima Riruako in Okahandja on 29 June.
Other similar incidents happened at Walvis Bay and Eros airports respectively.
Contacted for comment yesterday on whether Likando would be reinstated at a later stage and as to what role he will take up within the ministry, Permanent Secretary Peter Mwatile refused to divulge any information related to Likando’s removal.
“These are internal matters which cannot be discussed with the media, so I cannot share any information regarding this matter,” Mwatile told New Era yesterday.
The aviation sector has been making headlines after Hosea Kutako International Airport was downgraded during a routine ICAO audit.
The airport was downgraded from Category 9 to Category 5 last Tuesday, which resulted in the Airbus A330 and other larger aircraft being unable to take off or land from the airport in an incident that triggered a firestorm of criticism and resulted in some officials' suspension.
The audit found that two of the airport’s three firefighting trucks were dysfunctional.
As a result, an aircraft destined to land at Hosea Kutako had to land in Botswana, as it could not make use of the airport because of its new classification.
The line minister, Erkki Nghimtina, however assured the nation in parliament on Thursday that the situation would soon normalise as more firefighting trucks have been procured."