By Chinedu Eze
South African authorities are frustrating the evacuation of Nigerians who have been readied for the first batch of airlift from that country.
Air Peace flight, which left Nigeria 11:30 pm Tuesday arrived OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg about 4:00 am Wednesday and Nigerians have turned up for the airlift.
An official of the Nigerian High Commission in Johannesburg said that after the Commission had prepared the first 320 Nigerians for the first evacuation, the South Africa Immigration started causing problem by arresting the Nigerians due to travel, demanding papers and accused them of travelling without the right document.
The Nigerian High Commission had prepared travel documents for the Nigerians but the South African Immigration wanted to know how the Nigerians came into the country and began to arrest them, the official disclosed.
“South Africa is frustrating Nigeria. The Air Peace aircraft has been there since 4:00 am. Their Immigration started giving our High Commission problems. They said some Nigerians didn’t have papers. Immigration is arresting them, asking them to explain how they came to South Africa.
“About five minutes ago, only 182 Nigerians were allowed to board the flight; the rest are being barred by South Africa Immigration. They are frustrating the Nigerian High Commission, taking the passengers away. They want to frustrate the airline and the Nigerian government. The aircraft has been burning fuel since 4:00 am. They are not happy that Nigeria is evacuating its citizens. They don’t want the world to know that a Nigerian airline and Nigerian government is evacuating them.
“Our High Commission is having tough time with South African government. They are stopping and arresting Nigerians, saying they should explain how they came into the country,” the official said.
Air Peace said the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa would cost the airline about N300 million, which include the payment of passenger service charge, aeronautical and other charges in addition to the cost of operation.