The damning verdict on Nigerian airports


The recent naming of three Nigerian airports among the worst 10 in Africa is an embarrassing development that should worry our aviation au­thorities. The damning verdict from the survey conducted by a travel website, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports, is that the Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Air­port, Abuja, and the Murtala Mu­hammed International Airport, La­gos, are the 1st, 7th and 10th worst airports in Africa. The website also ranked the Port Harcourt Interna­tional Airport as the worst airport in the world for 2015. The Khartoum International Airport, Sudan, was ranked 2nd, Kinshasa N’djili In­ternational Airport, in Democratic Republic of Congo came 3rd, Juba International Airport, South Sudan was placed in the 4th position while Djibouti-Ambouli International Air­port, Djibouti ranked 5th. Others rated in the survey include Mombasa Moi International Airport, Kenya in the 6th position, Luanda Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport, An­gola, which came 8th and Douala In­ternational Airport, Cameroon, 9th.

As the website explained, the com­plaints of users of the airports who participated in the survey were hinged on corruption, crowds, cha­os, confusion and uncleanliness. The website noted that lack of standard facilities was a common predicament in the listed airports. It also enjoined intending passengers not to rely on the airports for entertainment or cus­tomer satisfaction.

Last year, the website ranked Port Harcourt International Airport as the 6th worst airport in Africa while Nnamdi Azikiwe International Air­port and Murtala Muhammed Inter­national Airport were ranked 7th and 10th worst in Africa, respectively.

Although this poor ranking is not entirely unexpected, it is very bad for Nigeria’s image. It is, indeed, a slur on the nation’s aviation and tourism in­dustries. The verdict of the website is common knowledge to the users of the three airports.

The Federal Government and our aviation authorities should take this ranking as a clarion call to improve our airports. They should do some­thing fast about corruption at Ni­geria’s airports. Personnel of sundry agencies such as the Customs and Immigration often openly demand bribes from intending travellers. The air conditioning systems in some of our airports are not good. They should be put in order. The toilet facilities should be kept clean at all times.

Aviation authorities should work hard to maintain these facilities. They should be made to compete favour­ably with the best in the world. We have the resources and manpower to do this. There should also be proper orientation of all airport workers, from the cleaners to the managers. They must work hard to get Nigeria off this list of bad airports in Africa and the world. It is necessary that we make a break with these poor rank­ings. We have had enough of them.

The in-coming Aviation minister should work hard to improve condi­tions in all our airports. There should be adequate seats and conveniences for the comfort of air passengers.

Nigerian airports and the aviation sector are in dire need of a compre­hensive systems overhaul to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. The right people should be put in the right places while the bad eggs should be shown the way out. The aviation sec­tor is too important to be trifled with. Other countries make huge fortunes every year from aviation, but we do not give this money-generating indus­try the attention it deserves.

It should no longer be business as usual. Let airport workers wake up and face reality. They should make the airports user-friendly. Airports are among the best advertisements for any country. They should be put in good shape so that they can tell a good story about Nigeria. They should be made attractive and comfortable for air travellers. The first assignment the would-be aviation minister must tackle is to address the bad image and problems of the three poorly ranked airports.

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