Beware! Lagos airport’s car park unsafe for travellers, vehicles
• FAAN, concessionaire trade blames on security
• ‘Vehicles are packed at owners’ risk’, facility operator push back
For the third time in less than a week, the Seymour Aviation Multi-level Car Park at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, has recorded multiple vandalisation of vehicles at the fee-for-service facility.
Motorists and travellers alike have complained about forced entries into parked cars, removal of car accessories and personal effects, coupled with harassment of users. Most worrisome is that the operator of the six-storey ultramodern facility is as well handicapped.
A driver, Kehinde Emiola, had parked at the facility on Monday while awaiting his principal’s return around noon. About 30 minutes later, according to him, he fetched the Highlander Jeep and proceeded to pick his boss.
“It was my boss that noticed that one of the side mirrors and rear light were gone. I was totally in shock because I have not seen anything like that before. Some people said such things now happen at the car park,” Emiola said.
Managing Director of a firm in Victoria Island, Lagos, also had a similar experience a few days to Christmas.
In the company of his driver, he had gone to Lagos International Airport to pick up family members arriving for the Christmas holiday. “At 2:30 p.m. we pulled into the multi-storey parking facility. We noted that this is the official FAAN’s designated parking garage, though they claim it is concessioned.
“At about 4:00 p.m., the driver went to pay for the parking fees to exit the garage to go pick the arriving guests. When he got back to the car, both driving mirrors had been stolen. They had ripped both mirrors off the Lexus 460 SUV.
“On complaining at the FAAN Security (TANGO) office, they summoned the Garage supervisor, who said they have a sign that says cars are “parked at owners risk”, hence they are not liable.
“Airport parking garage at Murtala Muhammed International Airport is being operated by a syndicate of thieves. You (the general public) will need to send two people and let one person protect your car. Do not leave your cars there alone. Please, forward to warn others, especially this Christmas period. This is how low we have come,” he stated, in a message on social media.
When The Guardian visited the facility, yesterday, it was a beehive of activities, with all manner of persons milling around the entrance and the ground floor.
A Bureau de Change operator told The Guardian that the complaint of theft had become almost daily affairs and isbeyond the facility managers.
He observed that when the facility started operations, it had the complement of Closed Circuit Cameras and security operatives that deterred thieving touts and unravelled criminal attempts.
“But the cameras have stopped working and unable to track movements. The former security guys are now busy towing off vehicles that are packed anywhere outside the car park so that they can generate more money. Even we that deal in currencies are looking over our shoulders because the bad boys are all over the place. FAAN knows of this situation but they are not ready to address it,” the operator alleged.
The car park facility, built at the estimated cost of N8 billion, is a partnership between Seymour Aviation Limited and FAAN and it started operations in October 2017. Under the Build, Operate and Transfer arrangement, Seymour Aviation is to run the 1,300 parking lot spread across the six-level structure for 30 years.
The Guardian learnt that controversy is already brewing on the operating agreement, which has turned the facility into a den of thieves.
Reacting to inquiries, an official of the facility, who pleaded anonymity, said the management was not responsible for the security of the facility.
He said besides the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) handling the entire Aviation Security, “we have clearly put the signage that cars are parked at owners’ risk’.
“So, if you have any complaint, please take it to FAAN,” he said.
Lagos Airport Manager, Victoria Shin-aba, denied the operator’s claim. She said: “No! The security of the car park is Seymour ‘s responsibility, while FAAN handles the security of the entire airport,” Shin-aba replied.
She, however, added that “we are working with them (Seymour) on measures that will put an end to it.”
The disturbing development at the car park, which is dedicated to serving the busiest entry port in the country, has also raised concerns about the safety of travellers that pass through the corridor.
Former Commandant of the Lagos Airport in the ‘90s, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said there were more potential security threats and breaches around the airport than the compromised car park.
Ojikutu, who is an aviation security consultant, said the situation of fuel tankers parking around the airport is the most dangerous one that has persisted over 20 years since the pipeline supplying fuel got ruptured and tankers were used to bridge fuel supply from Ejigbo to the airport.
He said: “Any operator within the airport must (according to civil aviation rules) have a security programme for its operation. Has the company with the concession to operate the parking area got the security approval of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for its operation?
“Secondly, there are houses behind the airport perimeter fences that have exceeded the standard tolerance security limits to the fences. Some of these houses are either using the fences as part of their building or as fences too for their houses. That is why incursion into the airport and taxiing aircraft are rampant.
“There is need too for FAAN security to conduct random checks on all those carrying On Duty Card (ODC) within the airport security controlled areas to fish out unauthorised persons, especially those that have been out of the services of their employers but are still carrying the ID cards and the airports ODC,” Ojikutu said.