Safety and security of air passengers at the Lagos airports is currently under threat as motorcyclists known as Okada, have taken over the Lagos Airport access road.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had restricted operation of motorcycle riders at the Lagos airport with billboards erected at various points of the airports, thereby, warning against operation of riders.
But due to weak or lack of enforcement from FAAN and other relevant authorities, the restriction has been violated with reckless abandon by the riders who have field day accessing the airport.
This has, however, raised concerns among aviation stakeholders who believe the Okada menace currently threaten peace, security, safety of passengers as well as facilities in the Lagos airport, urging concerned authorities to address the issue.
They also argued that FAAN lacks the political will to enforce the ban saying most riders are either their staff or belong to other security forces in the country.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP on this development, the secretary general, Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTi), Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the riders are threat to security at the Lagos airport.
Ojikutu, a former commandant of the Lagos Airport said, they could be responsible for series of security breaches recorded at the Lagos airport.
“Much more and could be insiders’ threats; who is keeping watch over them? Up till now, nobody has told us how the stowaway got into the airport neither have we been told how the man found on the wing of Maxair found his way into the airport.”
“There are more security threats at MMA than the Okada; the airport is in the midst of uncontrolled urban development areas and complicated road networks,” he said.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary-general, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Com. Olayinka Abioye, bemoaned the influx of motorcyclists in a security and restricted area such as the airport.
Abioye said FAAN was responsible for the violation of the order restricting motorcycles from plying the Lagos airport.
“FAAN made the rules, broke its own rules by seeing and ignoring violators of its own rules. Are you not aware that many of these motorbike operators are either fronting for some airport officials or they are either personnel of the police, Army or Air Force and these elements know each other, do business together and share the booty as they deem fit?
“If indeed FAAN wants this to stop under 24hrs, all it needs do is call their usual security meeting and take a mandate ‘operation no Okada,” he said.
A member of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Olumide Ohunayo, said military and airport workers who can defend why they are on the road are responsible for proliferation of motorcycles on the airport access road. He however called for the opening of alternative road to access the local and international airport in Lagos
He said they serve as alternative mode of transportation for passengers who sometimes are in delicate situation of missing flight due to traffic on the airport corridor, a situation he said has made motorcycle patronage high.
“However, this is not an issue FAAN can handle alone. They need to get Nigeria Airforce (NAF) along to see how they can curb the menace and they should open up another route for passengers to commute between international airports and local airports rather than going through the major road which is long overdue for expansion.”
“There should be a mode of transportation that can take us from international terminal to local terminal that has always been on the table and FAAN should see what can be done about that,” he said.