The President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) Mr. Bankole Bernard has criticised the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN over the incessant power outages at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria’s busiest airport.
He queried what the Authority is doing with the $50 Passenger Service Charge (PSC) they are collecting from every passenger that passes through the airport.
NANTA boss stated that this national embarrassment had to stop immediately as the regularity of the occurrence is becoming so alarming.
He wondered if Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State can successfully power Lagos with street lights from generators, why FAAN cannot successfully power our airports with generators.
“This incessant national embarrassment at our airport in the name of power outages must stop, this is unacceptable and condemnable, FAAN must explain to Nigerians what she is doing with the $50 PSC (Passenger Service Charge) collected from every passenger at the airport,” Bernard queried.
He wondered if this is how the federal government wants to make the airport a hub in West Africa with the constant power outages that always left the nation totally embarrassed.
If other smaller nation are getting it right in the area of airport infrastructure and development, why not Nigeria, he asked.
According to him: “If on a conservative estimate about 2000 passengers go through MMA in a day, that is $400,000 to FAAN account, wherever it is. So a day’s proceedings can buy uncountable generators for them or even they can generate their own power supply like most universities in Nigeria do.
These are part of the funds FAAN and NCAA say Arik or some domestic carriers do not pay, the domestic carriers evade this at will, but I can tell you, it is extremely difficult to find one international carrier that has not paid up to date. Only the NUC and the YQ or YR goes to the airline, all taxes are collected on behalf of the government, airport authority or the other. This charges are centralised and are now collected from source by IATA or so on behalf of the government through BSP.”
Meanwhile, FAAN has explained that the power outage which affected some part of the local airport on 12/09/2016 is being resolved.
A statement issued earlier by the general manager corporate Affairs of FAAN, Yakubu Dati said preliminary report indicated a damage on two number 11 KV underground power supply cable located within the construction premises of the international terminal.
In his words: Our engineers are resolving the identified issues, however, FAAN will relocate this cables out of the construction site to prevent re-occurrence and we crave your indulgence while that is being done. The Authority apologies for inconveniences caused the airlines, passengers and the general public”
It will be recalled that on Sunday, May 9, 2010, there was a power outage at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, which grounded flights and left several passengers stranded in intense heat and darkness.
Monday, 12 March 2012, same Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, was thrown into darkness for over six hours due to power failure.
Passengers arriving and departing the airport were almost suffocated at the immigration areas, the check-in area and the airline counters. while the airport manager, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), seem helpless on the issue.
March 8, 2013 the MMIA was also thrown into darkness for several hours crippling activities there and again on Saturday August 27, 2016 the show of shame continued as the same airport for the umpteenth time as the airport experienced another power outage, this one lasted till the evening of Sunday, August 28 paralysing activities at the nation’s busiest airport.
Passengers of KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Arik Air’s London and United States flights, Air Maroc and Delta Air Lines British Airways, Air France, South African Airways with passengers boarding the aircraft with either torchlight or phonelight.
Concerned stakeholders have observed that with incidents like this, it is clear that the unions are just placard carrying jokers who cannot justify why these airports should not be concessioned.
Though they maintained that this would still happen whether the airport is concessioned or not, but noted that the reality is that if you keep doing the same thing, you cannot expect a different result.