NIGERIA’S newly-introduced restrictions aimed at preventing a fresh outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has hit the air passengers hard leading to travellers having to spend the night at airports as a result of a curfew which restricts movement.
On May 10, the federal government announced another phase of restrictions to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. These included placing a ban on human and vehicular movement from 12am to 4am except for essential services, which has had a big impact on passengers travelling to and from airports.
Yesterday for instance, dozens of Air Peace passengers slept inside the arrival hall of the Murtala Mohammed airport in Lagos. A flight from Abuja initially scheduled for 9pm, eventually took off at 11pm and landed minutes after 12 midnight despite the nationwide curfew, forcing passengers to sleep at the airport.
Air Peace customers condemned treatment by the company and wondered whether the airline forgot a curfew was in place. Restrictions announced by Mukhtar Mohammed, Nigeria’s national incident manager, made it impossible for taxis to operate at airports and the curfew prevented people driving themselves or asking friends and relatives to pick them up.
One passenger said: “I am appalled and enraged as how do you fly people one hour to the start of restriction time. We’re not among the categories exempted from the curfew such as health workers, security operatives and journalists.
I’m sure regardless of the time, Air Peace staff would make it home or to hotels but sadly, there was no empathy for us who keep them in business, considering that we arrived when most people would not be able to get to their destinations in good time. They didn’t even give us snacks and by the time we arrived, the eateries had closed.”
On March 22, the federal government directed airlines to resume catering services on domestic flights immediately. However, airlines such as Air Peace, Aero Contractors, Arik Air and Max Air are yet to serve passengers refreshments, although Ibom Air and United Nigeria do.