Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is losing millions of naira in daily revenue as officers of the police and the air force are currently stationed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Access Gate, Lagos, to prevent the crisis between the aviation unions and the toll gate concessionaire from escalating.
Security officers were deployed there this morning following Monday’s take-over of the access gate by the three major aviation unions.
At the time of filing this report, motorists using the access gate had been passing freely without paying toll fares. Union members and staff of the concessionaire were seen sitting on both sides of the access gate unable to interfere as vehicles moved in freely.
With this development, both FAAN and its contractor are losing revenue accruing to them.
On Monday, February 3, the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria ( ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employee ( NUATE) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals ( ANAP) dislodged Integrated intelligence Imaging ( I-Cube) West Africa from the access gate following the expiration of a concession agreement between it and FAAN which ended in February 2019.
The unions have been opposed to plans by the Ministry of Aviation to bring in a new company to take over the gate. They had several meetings with the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and the management of FAAN, asking that the control of the access gates be reverted to the commercial department of the agency for at least three months in order to increase revenue.
The unions also expressed concerns that many members of staff who were employed by the agency for the purpose of collecting tolls had been made redundant. As the tussle for the control of the gates dragged on, the union said it was left with no choice than to take control of the gates since the contract of the concessionaire expired 12 months ago.
But I-Cube, in its reaction, told our correspondent that it was not indebted to the FAAN as it had always remitted the monthly N68 million agreed upon in the contract to the agency.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, told reporters that the agency was working to resolve the impasse.
One of the leaders of ANAP said that it was currently meeting with other unions to resolve the issue.
There are also unconfirmed reports that the unions have lodged a complaint with their parent bodies, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), over the issue.
An aviation security expert, Captain John Ojikutu, said that by his estimation the access gate generates about N5.5 million daily and will lose huge amounts of revenue as a result of the face-off between the unions and I-Cube.
“The concessionaire is supposedly paying FAAN N68m monthly. But my personal research on the toll gate shows that an average of 2,000 vehicles pass the gate both ways every hour. Allow 15 per cent for staff and non-paying privileged ones, then you are left with 1,700 vehicles every hour or 25,500 vehicles in about 15 active hours a day.
“If each vehicle pays N200, this translates to N5.5 million per day or about N150 million per month. The questions to ask FAAN and the unions are: what was in the contract and what is the sharing ratio on the revenue? What was the statistics of traffic that the expected revenue was based? If the union has no information on any of these, they too are going for a share in the fat calf, FAAN,” Ojikutu said.