Posted by News Express | 24 December 2021 | 377 times
By CHINEDU EZE
For over two months the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has been enforcing punitive measures against officials who extort money from air travellers, but such nefarious activities have not abated at the international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
THISDAY investigation revealed that extortion, issuance of fake international certificate of vaccination (yellow card) and fake COVID-19 still thrive at the Lagos airport.
THISDAY findings revealed that some passengers who are booked to travel come to the airport with positive COVID-19 results and insist on travelling; bribe airport workers, former airline officials who roam around the terminal and even some police and other security operatives to persuade airlines to allow them travel against the laid down rules.
Although airlines have become very strict in preventing passengers with questionable COVID-19 status from travelling, they complain of the pressure mounted on them by the airport officials and others who insist that ‘their clients’ should be allowed to travel.
The Country Manager of African World Airline (AWA), Mr. Uche Chima, said of the many passengers book to travel with the airline, few meet the stringent condition on COVID-19 because his company insists that travellers must present their negative COVID-19 test results.
“The number of outbound passengers has reduced because a lot of people test positive to COVID-19 and are unable to fly. Some passengers even come with test results that are positive. We are very strict about COVID-19 protocol so we don’t allow any one that does not have negative results. In fact, Ghana insists that only passengers with fully vaccination COVID-19 certificate that are allowed in the country. The other day two persons with positive COVID-19 test rest came to the airport and insist they must travel but we didn’t allow anyone without negative COVID-19 result to board our flight and travel. We have number of passengers but few are travelling,” Chima said.
However, he said there is increase in the number of inbound flights, as United Air Lines alone brings in about over 200 passengers daily from the US, adding that there is significant reduction in the number of people that travel out of the country.
He wondered why a traveller would come to the airport with COVID-19 test result that has positive result and insist on travelling.
THISDAY also confirmed that many travellers who come to the airport with positive test results pay some airport workers to push their case before the airlines.
“Some touts can collect up to N100, 000 from a family and give them fake results. Those who are enforcing anti-bribery at the airport are trying but it is when they begin to arrest security operatives that we will know that they are serious. A mess is going on here (MMIA) but the Abuja airport is sanitized. Everything is going on well in Abuja but I don’t understand why a lot of corrupt activities are allowed to go on in Lagos.
We cannot deny the fact that these illicit activities are happening. Some of the touts will even confront you and insist that you allow their clients to travel. The other day a policeman was begging an airline to allow his client to travel, but we are doing our best by following the directive of Port Health,” another airline official told THISDAY.
However, Regional Airport Manager, South West in charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Terminal, Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba said that a lot of activities happen at the Lagos airport because it still handles 80 per cent of international flights; “that’s why to check the excesses of airport users is more difficult compared to that of Abuja airport, but noted that FAAN is doing everything possible to stem the illicit activities going on at the terminal.”
“We are working very hard to sanitise the airport. We use the CCTV to monitor what is happening at the terminal and we are seriously discouraging those we perceive as touts from having access to the airport, so anyone we suspect that does not have anything he is doing at the airport we send him out.
“We also had meeting with Port Health, but one cannot imagine that passengers bring positive test results and still insist on travelling. We are seriously fighting those who carry out illegal activities at the airport,” she said.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, told THISDAY that the agency is very serious in fighting extortion and bribery at the airport and has intensified efforts to make sure that every corrupt activity are eliminated from the airport.
“When you are caught engaging in any corrupt activity at the airport your On Duty Card (ODC) is taken from you. If you are a staff of FAAN, you are suspended immediately. This serves as deterrent. But we found out that passengers are the ones encouraging those illegal activities. We have provided numbers to passengers, which they can call if they are confronted by anyone. Our Managing Director is doing so much on this but he cannot change the attitude of the people. FAAN is not the only agency at the airport. Passengers too should help us,” Mrs. Yakubu said. (Courtesy THISDAY)
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