Sunday, November 15, 2015

SHAME OF A NATION: With N500bn down the drain, Nigerian airports still stink

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If airports are supposed to serve as the mirror that reflects or portrays the inherent beauty of a par­ticular country, as the popular saying goes, then that mission appears to have failed woefully in Nigeria where the state of majority of Nigerian airports have failed to depict anything lofty about the country, particu­larly to any first time visitor.

Without any doubt, what confronts any visitor to Nigerian airports (both the international and domestic terminals) rang­es from the obviously poorly motivated and unfriendly staff, to the fewer immigration counters, to non-existing, derelict and decrepit infrastructure that fails to meet internationally acceptable standards.

From Lagos to Calabar, Abuja, Jos, Yola, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Benin, Maiduguri, Ilorin, air travellers are greeted frequently by such shortcomings like poor lightening and cooling systems, non-functional conveyor belts, dirty toilet facilities, within the airport terminals. And as the visitor exits the airport terminal, he meets defaced buildings, as well as touts and taxi drivers who loiter about soliciting for jobs, non-tarred and unkempt access roads, and the absence of parking spaces for visitors vehicles.

The situation got so bad that a first time foreign visitor to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, which for the past five decades has serves as the hub of aviation activities in Nige­ria was reported to have remarked that.......
“the toilet facilities at the air­port was too filthy and sickening for his Alsatian dog to use.”

Another frequent user of Ni­gerian airports, Peter Umoh, told Sunday Sun “the conditions of most of the airports depict noth­ing but the shame of a nation.”

“I am sure that Nigerians and government officials who travel outside to America, Europe, Asia and even some poorer African countries and pass through their airports will not deny my posi­tion. Aviation is a global industry and airports being so pivotal to the sector have standards that are globally acceptable. In Nigeria, we seem to have carved out our own standard which is noth­ing but a negation of efficient delivery of services, comfort and beauty,” he added.

Except for a newer airport, like the Murtala Muhammed domestic terminal two managed by a pri­vate firm, Bi-Courtney Limited, and some of the state government owed airports that enjoy a good public ranking within the country, the rest of the airports, including what can be considered as the most improved among the 22 re­habilitated or remodeled ones by the outgone government of Pres­ident Goodluck Jonathan cannot be said to be anywhere close to modern or standard airports.

In fact, any first time visitor to Nigeria who exits through the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport and drives along the airport road linking either to Oshodi or Apapa would carry an image of a country immersed in dirt and filth. For years, that road has remained an eye sore to most users. Where it should have been adored with flowers, it has been littered with dirt and with several petroleum tankers that also obstruct vehicu­lar traffic.

Aminu Agoha, President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies recently noted that operations and facilities at Nigeria’s international airports were negations of international standards.

“Travel agents in Nigeria are very worried about the current state of most of our airports particularly the Murtala Mu­hammed Airport, Lagos; Aminu Kano Airport, Kano; and the Port Harcourt International Airport,” said Agoha.

“These airports have suffered serious neglect and infrastructure decay over the years and this has led to the withdrawal of opera­tions by major foreign airlines operating in this country,” he noted.

Culled - TheSun

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