Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The United States Embassy has urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to link the international and domestic terminals of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, to facilitate transit of passengers.
The Deputy Economic Councilor, US Embassy, Mr. Michael Carney, made the call when he visited the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. Hamisu Yaduda Thursday in Abuja.
Carney said that the current arrangement, where transit international passengers would have to struggle to access the domestic terminal before flying to other destinations, was not good for its personnel.
He urged the authority to take urgent action to address the situation, adding that the embassy was ready to provide technical support to FAAN, if called upon.
According to him, the airport transfer in Lagos was not effective and convenient for travellers.
The councilor said it was especially cumbersome, to take another private transport in order to move from one terminal to another.
He, therefore, advised FAAN to provide authorised vehicle for the transfer of passengers between terminals at the airport.
“At US Embassy, we have many people who want to travel to Nigeria and often times they would want to combine trips.
“Some may be coming from South Africa, some from Uganda and different places. But my point is this; Abuja is very limited in the number of international flights.
“Trying to work schedules out is not as convenient as trying to get people to Lagos.
“The problem is that US government is not going to allow its personnel to go on public transport and find their way on public travel, to get away to Abuja.
“It is not going to happen for obvious reasons.
“Our request is that, if there are ways in which FAAN can mobilise transport between the various terminals, behind the secured parameter, to facilitate transfers of passengers even if they have to wait for an hour, it is okay.
“There should be some sort of route in which the bus can move from one terminal to the next.
“I just want to put the request to you, that at least it is in the interest of the country to facilitate passenger traffic, especially in Lagos, where you have the highest number of flights and passengers.
“But particularly for US government, we will directly benefit from that because we need to facilitate travels for our personnel who travel to Nigeria,” he said.
While responding, Yadudu assured the delegation that the authority had a plan to construct a short monorail, between the domestic and international terminals.
He said that the authority nevertheless, also had plans to do something as a palliative before such major project would be executed to facilitate passenger movements at the airport.
According to him, such development would make the airport more attractive to passengers because FAAN is for passengers and stakeholders.
Yadudu pledged that FAAN would take urgent steps to address the challenge.
“I am guaranteeing you that we will sit down and go through this, ahead of the completion of the expanded terminal.
“Ahead of the completion of the building, let us see how we can connect the airports, even if it is a shuttle service using luxury buses and create proper routes for them, where they can embark and disembark.
“In the next two months, we will keep you updated in case we might need some kinds of technical advice from you since you have the experience,” he said.
Yadudu also informed the delegation that the government had developed a plan on how to remodel the existing terminal when it moved operations to the new terminal.
He also pledged to always assist the US diplomatic staff and personnel in Abuja, for easy facilitation and visa, on arrival processes.
According to him, Nigeria is committed to keeping to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards for safety and security in and around the airports.
He called on the officials to always endeavour to adhere to standard procedures at the airport.