- Passengers stranded as airlines cancel flights
Chinedu EzeÂ with agency report
Lagosians were irate thursday and did not hesitate to show their anger over the decision by the state government to lockdown Nigeriaâ€™s largest commercial city of over 20 million people due to President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s two-day visit to the state.
The Lagos State Government also spared no thought for air passengers who were travelling for the Easter holidays, forcing domestic airlines to either delay or cancel their flights thursday.
THISDAY investigations revealed that many passengers missed their flights because the roads leading to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, were blocked for the presidential visit, compelling airlines to adjust their flight schedules, cancel some of their morning flights and hoping to add additional flights today in order to accommodate those who were not airlifted thursday.
Dana Air spokesman, Kingsley Ezenwa who spoke to THISDAY said passengers who could not fly thursday would be accommodated in other flights without payment for not turning up and missing their flights due to the closure of the roads to the airport.
â€œThe airspace is not closed but scheduled operations were cancelled because the roads to the airport were closed. The roads were opened at some point, which enabled us to operate our first flight, although the flight was delayed.
â€œWe are in constant communication with our passengers, so we have been sending them messages and some of them said that with the delays they cannot make it again today (yesterday).
â€œWe informed them we can accommodate them in fridayâ€™sÂ flights for free,â€ Ezenwa said.
The Executive Director, Technical, Medview Airline, Lukeman Animaseun also said there were flight disruptions due to the blockage of roads to the airports, which forced their 7 a.m. flight to leave at well after 8 a.m. but by midday the situation had normalised.
â€œThe road blockage affected our flight operations in the morning but we had to wait for passengers to get to the Lagos airport. But by afternoon the situation had normalised,â€ Animaseun said.
THISDAY also learnt that airlines were hopeful that todayâ€™s flights would not be affected, saying if the lockdown continued for a second day it would adversely affect their operations and leave a lot of their passengers who want to celebrate the Easter season with their loved ones stranded.
Many of the flights from Lagos destined for airports that operate only daylight service were cancelled because passengers were unable to get to the airport on time for the airlines to operate the flights before dusk.
It was not just air passengers that were affected, as airport workers could not get to their offices because of the closure of the roads.
Reacting to the needless lockdown in what is supposed to be a so-called cosmopolitan city, Lagos and several Nigerians condemned the state government for the ill-advised decision.
They also berated the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led government for shutting down the nationâ€™s commercial hub.
Expectedly, Lagos was trending throughout yesterday on Twitter and other social media platforms, and most commentators had harsh words for Buhari, Ambode and the Nigerian system in general.
Below were some of the reactions from online news sites:
@MrTomide wrote: â€œToday is a terrible day to be a Buhari/APC supporter. My good friend @stalyf challenged anyone to mention JUST ONE project initiated and completed in three years of the disastrous Buhari/APC administration and get 20k but NOBODY could rise up to the challenge.â€
@OlusosuD wrote: â€œIf Ambode ever builds a light rail in Lagos, we will just have to leave Lagos for him at the time of commissioning. Because he will invite Jesus Christ.â€
@biolakazeem had one of the best tweets when he wrote: â€œLagos is shutdown because the president is in Lagos to commission a bus station. Not an underground train station. Or even a monorail. A bus station. A state supposedly led by a lettered man. Folks, Nigeria is finished. We can pack & go home now.
@DemolaRewaju was quite revealing: â€œAgents of the state are mobilising 10 people from each ward in Lagos with a promise of NGN3,000 to come and hail Buhari while the police has caged the NBA Ikeja Branch which wishes to protest against Ambodeâ€™s retrogressive policies. Any crowd you see in Lagos today is rented.â€
@Chxta took a pointed shot at Ambode, saying: â€œLetâ€™s focus. The compulsory exercise that we are participating in in Lagos today isnâ€™t because of the old man. He has not even brushed his teeth this morning. Itâ€™s the pot-bellied one that is doing eye service that we should direct our ire at.â€
@newscantell wrote on Wednesday: â€œAmbode declared tomorrow as work free because Buhari is coming to commission a bus stop in Lagos. Lagos is the 5th largest economy in Africa. The person that declared tomorrow work free, the person that will commission the bus stop, and the people that will attend are all mad.â€
@akaebube wrote with an accompany photograph of the general aviation terminal in Lagos: â€œThis New Airport Terminal in Lagos was built and commissioned by GEJ. No public holiday was declared for its commissioning. No road closures. No fanfare. Buhari is coming to Lagos to commission a â€œBus stopâ€ and we have a State of Emergency on our hands.â€
@gossyomega wrote: People booked their flights many weeks ago. So many people flying out of Lagos for Easter. Yet you block roads leading to the airport with 24hrs notice.â€
@tolulopeab warned: â€œLagos DONâ€™T DO IT. Absolutely avoid VI if you can today. Entering via Bonny Camp thru CMS is a no, no. You are diverted inside Lagos Island. Many side roads close to Eko hotel are closed. Drove around for 20 minutes trying to get to my office.
@4eyedmonk in Abuja wondered: â€œI really donâ€™t know why Lagos had to be shutdown for President Buhariâ€™s visit. He lives here in Abuja and moves around amongst us on a regular basis, and we have never had to shutdown the city for one day.â€