FAAN, Airlines Ignore Covid-19 Third Wave Inside Abuja Airport

If you expect to see strict enforcement of the Covid-19 protocols at the prime international airport of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, you will be disappointed.

At least 15 airlines operate from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to a range of domestic and international destinations and it is expected that there would be strict adherence to the protocols at such a major gateway to the nation.

The airport is managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 on July 18 alerted that the nation had continued to witness “worrisome early signs of the third of the pandemic,” and listed Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna ,Kano , Plateau and the FCT as states that must be “on red alert”.

But FAAN and the airlines operating at the airport appeared to be careless when THE WHISTLER visited for an assessment of compliance level last week.

The officials were willing accomplices in the violation of safety measures against spread of the pandemic at the airport arrivals and departures.

At the entrance of the Terminal ‘B’ which houses airlines including Azman, First Nation, Med View, Arik and Max Air, there are two spots for travelers and visitors to sanitise.

One was provided to sanitize passenger luggage while the other was for them to wash their hands, but the issue was with the enforcement.

THE WHISTLER observed for about one hour that some air passengers willingly went to observe the protocol while some avoided washing their hands or even sanitizing their luggage– thanks to the nonchalant attitude of airport officials.

Airline operators at Terminal ‘B’ also ignored most safety measures provided by the NCDC.

Azman Air, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

For instance, the first airline visited was Azman Air. At the check- in and ticketing counter of the airline, passengers were allowed to queue without observing social distancing.

Wearing of face masks was not mandatory as some on the queue at the counter did not wear face masks or did not wear it properly.

Just opposite the Azman wing is an entrance leading to Max Air. At the Max check- in counter, passengers queued without observing the 6 feet social distance. Face masks were also optional as some staff and passengers stood so close without wearing the masks.

Max Air, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja
Staff Staff and Passengers, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja
Max Air

At the Terminal ‘D’, THE WHISTLER observed that the hand sanitizer at the entrance had been exhausted but was not replaced, although the disinfection stand for baggage was active.

The ‘D’ Terminal houses six airlines which include: Ibom Air, United Nigeria, Aero, Air Peace, Dana Air and Over Land.

Empty Hand Sanitser At The Entrance of Terminal ‘D’, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Just inside the Terminal, passengers and visitors were allowed to cluster without observing social distancing, while some pushed their face masks below their jaws.

At the check- in counter of Ibom Air, officials allowed their customers to crowd together without observing the airport Covid-19 protocol.

Ibom Air Staff and Passengers, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

At all the airlines, none made it compulsory for passengers to stand in the marked areas that would allow them observe the six feet social distance.

At Aero check- in and ticketing counter, the case was the same as both passengers and staff were clustered.

Aero Staff and Passengers, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Outside the Terminal ‘C’ for international and domestic arrivals and international departures, people had liberty to cluster.

At the front of the terminal, two wash hand basins are built on two poles, but they looked abandoned as no soap was provided and the automatic dispenser hand sanitizer glued to one of the basins was empty as at the time of the visit.

The active cases of covid-19 declared by the NCDC has now risen to 4,180 and Lagos, Oyo and Abuja are leading with 22,562, 6,919 and 6,385 cases respectively since 2020.

This has raised more fears of a third wave in Africa’s most populous nation where 2,130 have died out of a total of 171,111 cases, according to the NCDC.

The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, told THE WHISTLER that the organization is taking the necessary measures to enforce Covid-19 protocols.

“Those things (sanitizers and soaps) are there now. In fact when you called me, a few of them were actually empty but they were refilled that day.

“The protocols and procedures are still being observed because I had to speak with my colleague. I called my colleague in customer service (SERVICOM), you know they are mostly the ones outside to check. But you know that sometimes it is the carelessness of passengers because they feel Covid-19 is no more. So, most of them come in even without masks.

“But if you don’t have a mask, you can’t enter the terminal,” she said.

Nevertheless our correspondent observed that people entered the terminals without masks.

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