It is no more news that the first point of call when coming into Nigeria - the International Airport is full of all manners of officials and officers that can make it a hell for you if you're not aware of their ways. That, coupled with the high level of infrastructure decay, with facilities that are ill-maintained makes the international airports in Nigeria one if not the worst in the world.
For some of us who are regular fliers, we've become almost immune to their regular backhandedness. But if you're a first-time international flier, Naijauto feels it would do you well to be aware of all of these things that will be highlighted in this article, so you can be ready for them.
Be ready for the myriad of unnecessary screening points that will do everything to wasted your time until you find them something like cash. By the way, according to an Executive order signed in 2018 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, other screening points aside from the normal screening machine.
So let's look at those things that have become a source of headache for passengers at the International Airport in Nigeria.
1. Heavy traffic! You’ll wish you had a flying car!
The first frustration you’ll notice on your way out of Nigeria is the terrible traffic congestion while trying to get to the airport, especially for the Muritala Mohammed International Airport Lagos. People have been known to spend many hours on the road which normally takes a few minutes to the airport. The traffic situation is so bad you’ll wish you had a flying car to get you to the airport in time for your flight.
Many a traveler has had to take bikes from the traffic just so they do not miss their flights, but that’s only easy if you don’t have much luggage. For people with a lot of baggage, they might need to take some uncomfortable decisions like leaving the house much earlier than expected even if it means sitting down at the airport 8 hours earlier than your flight's schedule. Better even to sleep at a hotel very close to the airport a day before if you don’t want to take chances.
People who travel light are usually found taking Okadas in order not to miss their flights!
2. Scavenging car towers
The contractor company for towing illegal car parking have become very exploitive and their activities to some extent are also becoming illegal, as there are no warning signs that say no parking.
Their high-handed strategy is to impound any vehicle that stops for even a second, even if all you’re doing is asking for directions without coming down from your vehicle.
The way they rush out to quickly clamp your wheel makes people wonder if the Airport authority is aware of their oppressive activities. Once your car has been impounded, be ready to pay a fee of N50,000 to get your car back. Their modus operandi is to sit in a parked car nearby giving the motorist the impression that it is ok to park there. If by mistake stop your car there, even though you didn’t switch off your engine, they will just rush at your car to quickly clamp it down and tow it to their office, where you’ll be asked to pay the fine before the vehicle is released.
The towing contractors at the airport are scavengers and are quick to clamp your tyres!
3. Law enforcing officers – another stone in your path!
These guys are simply the chief frustrating officers stationed at the airport even though their job description does not include frustrating innocent travelers. These officers are numerous and are positioned at numerous points, getting you all worked because they want to collect bribes that passengers are not willing to give.
The traffic control police stationed to direct the flow of traffic will usually use this opportunity to restrict access to motorist until he gets “squared”. The customs officials who call every item in your bag “contraband” so that you can sort him to allow you take your stuff on your trip. What of the Drug Law Enforcement people who cannot tell you they want anything after they’ve ascertained you’ve got nothing incriminating, but will still delay you to frustrate you, hoping that you’ll drop something for them. The Immigration Officers are also there not there primarily to confirm the validity of your traveling papers, but to get a bit of your hard earned money. Finally, the SSS is just waiting to collect some of the foreign currency you’ve declared.
Every one of these uniformed officials sees his station as an opportunity to oppress and frustrate passengers, so as to extort the innocent travelers of their hard earned money. These illegal acts have become the norm for them, and they’ve even become brazened about it as nobody seems to be checking their acts.
You need to be careful with every official you meet at the airport. They are out to unsettle you at all cost!
4. Discouraging terminals’ facilities
Our Airport has one of the poorest facilities in the world that is discouraging and disheartening. Lagos International airport especially seems to have fallen into a state of disrepair and lacking maintenance for some facilities.
Things that are as common as a good toilet facility is lacking good maintenance. It is not uncommon to be greeted by the stench of urine deposited by many individuals, as you make your way through the terminal.
Our Airport authorities probably need to go for an internship in other world class airports to see how it is done.
The facilities at the airport are nothing to write home about!
5. Airline officials are also not left out!
This is one of the most annoying parts of the whole airport frustration going on. Even airline official who you think you are patronising with your money will now add salt to the hurting injury. These set of people are supposed to be rendering assistance to make sure you are comfortable with their airline for continued patronage but no!
These officials begin to ask you all sorts of question that is not meant to comfort you but rather unsettle you and even make you panic. It’s like they don’t even have a basic understanding of customer care. Maybe it is just the Nigerian factor as these kinds of treatment are not found in other climes even for the same airlines. Some of them can even declare you unfit for flying even though they can see you have a valid visa as well as a ticket.
All these hanky-panky games that they play are just to give them control over you so you’ll do anything they say. Sometimes I wonder why that is needed.
The story of what Nigerians face at the international airport is a sad one as everyone and anyone seem to be out to exploit you and to rip you off in an official manner. They use their uniforms to carry out these acts and the authorities seem not to care until it gets out of hand.
This is really sad for the country’s image and Naijauto feels the authority will do well to address the issue now before it is too late.
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