Air versus road travel from a passenger’s perspective
I have been reading articles from different sources revolving around having a functional National Air Carrier with keen interest. A most recent one was why the new National Air Carrier was suspended indefinitely by the Federal Government. On 15 August 2018 there was a caption: “Ethiopian Airlines moves to manage proposed Nigeria Air.” In the past, when Nigeria practically had no private airlines when I travelled to other West African countries I felt so bad to see how Nigerians rushed to secure seats from the then Gabon Air or Cameroon Airlines. I wondered where the Nigerian Airways was. I wished I flew with my country’s airline. My second thought was that with the high population of Nigeria more income could have been generated to Nigeria had we a national carrier.
I read that Ethiopian Airlines won best in Africa. But I understood why they won that prize when I flew them the first time in July to Cape Town. I must confess I bought their ticket because it was cheaper than most airlines. But my experience with them was a lot much better than the more expensive airlines. I was impressed that with all the connecting flights my luggage arrived punctually. They must have a double verification system. The air hostesses had lots of human virtues like friendliness, patience, politeness etc. I was very worried because I had to spend a night at Addis Ababa. To my surprised before departure from Lagos I was given the name of the hotel where I would spend the night at Addis Ababa. I was impressed that their international airport at Addis Ababa was very busy with people from other continents. I quizzed one of those international passengers when he flew Ethiopian Airlines, he said it was cheaper and rendered good services.
I conclude that Ethiopian Airline works because of good managerial ability and maintenance skills. I noticed their airport though a lot much smaller had sufficient lighting, luster and was clean. The airport in Cape Town had that luster too and looked modern. Though I love my country but I wished the Murtala Muhammed International Airport has more lighting. Perhaps experts can devise ways of putting more and appropriate adverts or lighting system all around and in particular around the areas where the passengers’ passports are stamped at arrival. In my opinion the hall looked dull.
Also at arrival point, it may be better that a signboard just indicates where nationals and non nationals should go without someone saying it verbally. This can give both the nationals and nonnationals a bigger welcome to Nigeria. Obviously we came out of the aircraft through the gate that Ethiopian Airlines normally uses. We walked down a wing alongside an abandoned wing with old buckets collecting leakages from rainwater towards the departure area. Beside the old buckets was abandoned food pack and dust. I felt bad to see the aircraft crew sitting by the dirty dusty abandoned wing.
Sometimes the carpet by the walkway need replacement from wear and tear. Experts can also think of more lasting material than carpet. I like the new car pack. But the floor of the walkway through which travelers wheel there suitcases to the carpark is rough, can experts redo this rough part? I also noticed an overflowing dustbin near the car park. So Air Nigeria or absence of it, what Nigeria needs is good management and maintenance culture first. The book on Environmental Education and Maintenance Culture for Teens can be a useful resource material that can be used for inter-school completion around the World Environment Day to foster maintenance culture in our youths.
Air travel or road travel where is our focus? I like travelling by road because there are a lot more things to see. In my recent travel along Ore-Benin road, I saw acres of virgin forests planted with useful trees in an orderly and organized manner. To me, that is development which contributes to the economy. I travelled via Lagos Epe-Ore- Benin-Asaba road. To my surprise the Ogun-Ore-Benin road is not yet completed so that Nigerians can acclaim that this is a built to last and completed project! The Lagos Epe road is beautiful but the link between Lagos and Ogun State is very bad. One of the access roads linking Sango Ota to Lagos is equally bad.
I heard the Badagry road which is supposed to be an international route linking about three or four West African countries is bad. An acquaintance told me that the Onitsha Enugu section of the federal high way is worst than the road that link Lagos and Ogun State from Epe. The Benin by-pass and Asaba road needs maintenance before it gets out of hand.
What does Nigeria need the most now? Improved road travel, air travel or electricity services? Personally I think that our roads and electricity supply should be improved first so as to increase the earning power of those who want to patronize the air travel.
Rosemary N. Ossai
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