The aviation sector is a particularly sensitive one. That is why all over the world, great attention is paid to enhancing security in and around airports. One of such efforts in Nigeria is the establishment of a unit known as Aviation Security AVSEC under the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.
However, recent experiences at the Lagos airports call for concern. The FAAN authorities have for whatever reason contracted the policing of the airport environment to contractors with the specific mandate to provide security by impounding vehicles ‘illegally’ parked in the airport environment.
However, an unstated and even more prominent motive of the security contractors is the generation of funds for FAAN. Funds are generated through fines often arbitrarily imposed on perceived offenders whose vehicles are clamped in any area the contractor deems as unfit.
As the amount of commission that comes their way is directly proportional to the amount of revenue and vehicles they shackle, it is no surprise that the contractors often clamp down on vehicles for unjustifiable reasons. Motorists, even those asking for directions at the Lagos airports, fall victim to these agents who act like thugs. They tow vehicles to the FAAN Mechanic base where motorists are compelled to pay whatever amount charged by the contractors. There is no channel of appeal, no venue for redress and the word of the contractor is final.
The arbitrariness of the contractors is not the only cause for bother. The manner of their operation is crude and unbecoming of officials serving the public. They should be courteous though firm in the discharge of their duties. These contractors are not helping the image of the country.
This is a serious drawback to the Federal Government’s drive to brighten up our Doing Business profile. Government establishments exist primarily to assist people, render courteous services and yet implement the laws of the land. They are not meant to act oppressively and scare people from making use of airport facilities.
We call on the Ministry of Transport and FAAN to look into this issue urgently and save law abiding airport users undue harassment and intimidation by contractors who are motivated more by selfish interests than courteous service and maintenance of the law in our major airports.
Since there is a Police Command at the airport, FAAN should work with it to maintain security since both are government agencies. Alternatively, FAAN’s AVSEC should carry out its job itself.
Our airports are our first gates to the world out there. First impressions matter especially to visitors, tourists and investors. FAAN must clean up its act and conduct its lawful duties in line with universal best practices.