Posted by By Kenneth Ehigiator on
COMMERCIAL activities at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) shed of the Murtala Mohammed International....
COMMERCIAL activities at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) shed of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport yesterday ground to a halt as clearing agents and security operatives engaged one another in a brawl.
Although no arrest was made by the police, the battle between both parties spilled over to airport road, creating serious traffic bottleneck that got motorists stuck, and scores of commuters stranded for hours.
Trouble started when Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) security personnel working in concert with armed policemen, stopped the agents from accessing the shed for the day’s business.
Vanguard gathered that no fewer than 300 of the agents, said to be members of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANCLA), were locked out in the process, and this sparked off a protest among the agents who considered FAAN’s action punitive.
The situation would have degenerated into utter chaos, but for the quick reinforcement by the police who brought it under control.
ANCLA’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Njoku, who spoke with newsmen on the matter blamed FAAN for its inability to issue members of the group On Duty Cards (ODC), which would enable them access the shed for their day-to-day activities.
He alleged that ANCLA members were denied the access cards despite being made to pay for such cards.
Reacting to the development, FAAN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Adeniyi Ajakaiye, dismissed insinuations that the agency’s action on the agents was punitive.
According to him, the action was taken to streamline the movement of people into the shed for security and safety reasons.
Ajakaiye said reports of stealing and rape had been recorded in the shed in the past, adding that the place had also in recent past played host to illegal business deals.
“What we have done is to streamline the influx of people into the cargo shed area because of reported cases of stealing and rape. It is also part of the conditions required of Nigeria to scale the forthcoming ICAO test,” he said.
Ajakaiye, who noted people’s resistance to change, said the control of the influx of people into the shed would enable FAAN determine legitimate clients in the area.
He dismissed the agents’ allegation of being kept in the dark on the exercise, stressing that they were given at least a week notice to organise themselves or face the action that befell them yesterday.
Only about a year ago, FAAN also had confronted customs agents and other vendors at the shed, demolishing offices and shops to pave way for the reconstruction of the cargo terminal.
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