Aviation workers’ unions yesterday made good their threat to take over the collection of tolls at the access gate of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.
Members of the unions, in their drove, stormed the access gate as early as 7a.m. to chase away officials of the concessionaire, and replace them with officials of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The Guardian learnt that the hijack had been in the works since the contract of the concessionaire, the Integrated Intelligent Imaging West Africa Limited (ICUBE), expired a year ago.
More so, the unions under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and National Association of Air Transport Pilots and Employees (NAAPE) faulted the monthly remittance of N68 million to FAAN, describing it as too small compared to the high-traffic flow that funnel through the toll centre daily.
The General Secretary of ANAP, Abdulrasaq Saidu, said the management of access gate remained the sole responsibility of the commercial department of FAAN, adding that politicians had messed up the system through illegal concession of revenue points at the airports
Saidu alleged that the concession of the access gate was fraudulent without a review of the contract for more than five years, despite a rapid increase in vehicular traffic. He blamed some individuals in FAAN and the aviation ministry for the “fraud”, saying they had compromised over the access gate’s concession.
He explained that following series of meetings held with the aviation minister, and the FAAN Managing Director at different occasions, “it was made known to them that workers were going to take over the access gate and run it by FAAN commercial department to raise its revenue.”
The deputy national president of ATSSSAN, Sarah Rimdams, said the workers came “to recover their revenue points back to government, as the contract with ICUBE expired last February.”
Rimdams said the company had been remitting N68 million monthly, but there was need for an upward review of the contract.She said the new handlers would exceed the N68 million target. She disclosed that the access gate was being test run by FAAN, to know the actual amount the facility generates monthly. She was optimistic of a better return than N68 million.
Reacting to the forceful takeover, the manager of Integrated Intelligent Imaging West Africa (ICUBE), Toluwaleke Abajingin, told reporters that he was surprised to see workers and unions took over the access gate.
Abajingin said the case was in court between one Rosepine Integrated limited, FAAN and ICUBE, adding that as a responsible organisation, ICUBE staff did not resist. He said ICUBE had been paying FAAN up to date, and were never informed about any upward review of the contract or otherwise. Abajingin said there was a right of first refusal in the contract, and FAAN has not communicated to ICUBE on the agreement.