Passengers lament experiences at Lagos airport - BUSINESSDAY
BY Ifeoma Okeke-Korieocha
A number of passengers have expressed their frustration over what they experienced at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.
Crowded walkways, insufficient security gates that slow passenger movements, unfriendly immigration officers, long queues around strategic areas of the airports, and toilets with offensive odour have been identified as some of the factors that discourage travel and passenger facilitation.
These rising concerns are coming to the fore again at a time when some Nigerians outside the country are travelling back to participate in the general elections, scheduled to start on Saturday.
A passenger with the Twitter handle @markessien narrated his experience at the MMIA.
The tweep described the airport as probably one of the worst run and worst designed.
According to the tweet, passengers have to drop off on a road that is one road away from the airport and there is no walkway to get to the airport, instead passengers have to walk back down the same road, trying to avoid other cars that are trying to drop off other people.
The tweep said: “There are two security gates for every single passenger. Where they scan bags for no reason I can deduce, because they don’t scan your body. You wait about one hour. The entire queue is at the first entrance, because it’s not obvious there is a second entrance behind.
“There are some men who linger around and tell you they will take you to a faster way in exchange for a tip. If you agree, they just take you to the second entrance. Once in, there is no way to know the queue for your plane. All queues merge into each other.
“Arriving is chaos. You get to a health check, and they give you an A4 form to fill. There is no space to fill it! You stand at the head of the queue, filling it while others wait for you. Meanwhile, another form was given in the plane to foreigners only.”
He described the car park as “horrible”. “It can take up to an hour to get out due to the terrible design and lots of people are shouting. It takes almost 20 minutes to pay, and by the time you are out, the ticket has expired,” he said.
Other tweeps also responded to the tweet, lamenting the unpleasant situation at the Lagos airport.
Hanson Nnadi, with the Twitter handle @HansonNnadi, said: “You forgot to mention the air conditioners don’t work in the entire departure section.”
Chidubem, another passenger with the Twitter handle @Dum_Dum, said: “Once you arrive there, you become depressed, and then you will start thinking about airports you passed through to get there.”
“All those guys lingering around obviously have the incentive to make sure there are no signs whatsoever. There is NO space anywhere. Security is also bribed to allow people who are not officials in. Maintenance is zero,” MisterDavid, with the handle @itsmisterdavid said.
John Ojikutu, a member of Aviation Round Table and chief executive of Centurion Securities, told BusinessDay: “There are no clear plans for crowd control at the access and exit gates of the passenger terminals. FAAN hasn’t come out to say any plan on spacing between passengers’ flights departures and arrivals.”
In Nigeria, passengers spend an unduly long time at security screening points because of insufficient number of X-ray machines, forcing them to queue at security screening points, especially at peak hours.
In many other countries, it takes between 30 seconds to two minutes to get screened but in Nigerian airports, it takes between five and 15 minutes to get screened, depending on the number of passengers waiting to be checked.
Ojikutu listed some of the infrastructural gaps that cause flight delays at Lagos airport to include inadequate checking-in-counters, inadequate passengers screening checkpoints and screening machines or unserviceable screening machines resulting in manual screening, inadequate aircraft boarding gates, inadequate aircraft parking areas, inadequate ground handling equipment or facilities, and absence of taxiways or sufficient links from aprons to runways.
The old dilapidated aero bridges at the Lagos airport also compound the troubles of airlines and passengers.
With the absence of the automated bridges, airlines operating in Nigeria spend millions of naira annually just to tow their aircraft into the aerobridge, a point to disembark passengers after landing.
BusinessDay’s findings show that in many countries, airlines taxi their aircraft into the aerobridge, but in Nigeria, airlines pay to taxi their aircraft to the bridges because the aerobridges are old and not automated to align with newer aircraft.
This process has continued to cause unnecessary delays to passengers who are forced to remain in the aircraft for 10 to 20 minutes for the aircraft to be towed after landing.