Travelling out of Nigeria for most people, especially the first time travellers is a worrisome experience. To be fair, I think the process of checking-in at any of the international airports to the point of boarding the aircraft is more tedious, stressful, energy consuming and frustrating than the process of getting the travel visa itself.
For most cases, the passengers cannot move one point to another without parting with cash as in the form of bribe.
The presence of enormous security personal and unnecessary screening points is quite embarrassing and time-consuming. These extra screening points aside the normal screening machine are illegal according to the Executive Order signed sometime in 2018 by the Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo (GCON).
In this article, I want to express some of the troubles and headache Nigerians, in particular, go through whenever they want to leave the country through any of the international airports.
The bunch of problems travellers face at Nigeria’s International airports
#1. Unbearable Traffic congestion
This is a peculiar problem with the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja-Lagos. Nowadays the traffic congestion being experienced at the airport road is unbearable and has led to so many missed flights.
It is so bad that you can spend over 3-hours on the airport road for a trip that normally take 5 to 10 minutes. For most passengers that travel light, they are normally left with the option of taking a bike to the terminal building to avoid missing their flights while for those who cannot avoid travelling with lots of luggage, they mostly resign to their fate and hope that they meet up
#2. Impatient car towing officials
If you are a regular at the airports particularly Lagos airport you will agree with me that the towing van company that operates there are inhuman.
Your vehicle wheels can be clamped for just stopping at a bus stop within the airport to ask someone for directions. They will waste no time to impound your vehicle and tow it to their office while you are forced to part with the sum of N50,000 as a fine for the supposed wrong parking.
Nowadays, they disguise themselves inside private cars normally parked somewhere around the supposed no-parking areas (even though there will not be any sign to indicate that), thereby attracting other motorists looking for a parking space.
They will watch you park and turn off your car engine before one of them will jump out of the car in which they have taken as their hideout and the next thing that will follow will be that your car will be impounded.
#3. Frustrating law enforcement officers
Where do I start? Is it the police that stationed at some points in the airport stopping motorists and travellers at will or is it the Nigerian Customs officials that are in the terminal building waiting for the slightest opportunity to extort money from travellers going for their business.
Do I talk about the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) officials who even after ransacking your bags but couldn’t find any incriminating substance will still keep and delay you just to break you to the point that you will feel delayed and possibly part with cash to appease them?
What about the Nigerian Immigration Service officials that will fling your passport back to you the moment they realize that you didn’t tuck in some cash in your passport before submitting it.
How can I forget the State Security Service (SSS) officials that are waiting to know how much dollars you are travelling with as if they were the ones that paid for your flight ticket. The very moment that you are travelling with a large sum of cash they will start expecting their cut most times in hard currencies.
All the mentioned law enforcement officials intimidate passengers and make them part with their hard earned monies at any slightest opportunities. They carry out these acts with great pride and strength as it was legal.
#4. Unconducive terminal building
I understand that Nigeria is still a developing country but the state of our terminal building (Lagos in particular) is appalling.
It is far from an airport terminal building. The Power outage has become a norm, the whole terminal building stinks and the cooling systems are not enough any longer to sustain the increasing number of travellers.
I want to believe that this will be addressed soon when the new terminal building under construction finally comes alive.
#5. Overzealous airline and airport officials
Sometimes I wonder if the so-called airline and airport officials realize that they are in the aviation sector to offer customer service.
What we see is far fetch from what is obtainable from other international airports all over the world. All the quest of trying to make a traveller part with cash, the airline officials go as far as delving into issues that are beyond the scope of their job.
These days you see airline officials trying to ask questions about past travelling records even though it clearly has nothing to do with the current situation. They go as far as declaring you not-qualified to fly even when you have a valid visa and air ticket.
All these gimmicks are targeted towards outing the traveller into panic mood so that you can be willing to do anything just to fly.
It is quite disheartening that travellers don’t only face these challenges when departing Nigeria. Some of these issues and many more have now become a norm both when departing and arriving in Nigeria.
So far, the Federal Government together with the Airport Authority has tried in their efforts to see that the airports become more user-friendly. But they both need to up their game and see that all the highlighted issues are addressed in due time to save the airport users from all these stress and torment.