As the nation’s busiest international airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, is always bustling with travellers; who are have expressed disappointment with its state and service. The 31 year-old airport is one of the four gateways to the country; Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourtare the other three international airports in the country.
Faulting the gateway
A passenger, who identified himself as A. Jack, said he was always ashamed of using the airport anytime he had to go abroad. “Everything is wrong with this airport, internally and externally,” he said. “First, it lacks maintenance, so it looks totally unkempt. The ceilings are so dirty and the outside is so bushy. The whole place is so stuffy when it’s crowded because the AC’s are not working well. Talking about the toilets is a completely different thing, because it’s an eye sore; you just can’t compare this airport to any other one around the world.”
The airport is usually crowded. The arrival and departure halls of the airport depict a poor maintenance culture which is evident in the faulty lifts, broken water closets, and pieces of ceramics lying around the toilets. Some of toilets, which were said to be under renovation, were locked. Victor Faloju, a Nigerian studying in Russia, said he was still unsure of which was worse; “departing from the airport or arriving from abroad”. “Boarding here, the corrupt immigration officials will harass you, saying one thing or the other, like food and relaxer is considered contraband in the country you are going, so that you can leave it for them or bribe them to go with it, and when you are arriving, it’s another problem with conveyor belts and bribes,” he said.
He also blamed incidence of missed flights on the few screens provided by the airport management for the passengers. “In Istanbul airport and the other ones I’ve been to, screens are everywhere, even in the toilets, so you won’t see people missing their flights unlike here where there are only a few screens,” he said. Nosakhare Peters, a passenger on his way to Dubai, lamented the frequent power outages experienced in the airport. “Apart from the fact that the place is dirty, the light issue is a big problem,” he said. “I was so embarrassed the last time I came in from Dubai; there was no light and the heat was just too much. We were lucky it was in the afternoon; I can’t imagine it happening at night. Also, it’s only when I get here that I have to pay to use the trolley; it’s not like that at the Dubai airport.”
Akin Olukunle, the Public Affairs General Manager, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, was said to be out of the country, and so was unavailable for comments. However, a senior official of the agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “complete renovation works” had started. “Work is going on at the airport,” he said. “It has started in the airports, including the one in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu. They are changing everything and the toilets will also be turned around. Some of the toilets are already being renovated and once their renovation is completed, they will open them and lock the other bad ones for renovation as well. The renovation work will include re-tiling and putting new packages like AC’s and so on.”
In Mr Jack’s assertion, no amount of government spending on the airport will match the quality of other international airports abroad. He suggested that the airport be privatised for better efficiency.