Getting out of the Murtala Muhammed Airport after the close of work last Thursday was hellish as it took many airport workers over one hour to drive from the international wing of the airport through the local axis to get out of the number one gateway airport.
Though the Thursday experience was not the first of its kind as it has become a regular and a daily routine that airport users are confronted with, the unfortunate fact about the regular traffic congestion around the airport is that it is actually happening at an environment that requires free passage.
Prior to now, key players had expressed their displeasure at the manner the Lagos airport is being defaced by the too much access given to unlimited vehicular movement and, by extension, too many people who have no reason being at the airport.
It is no longer a secret that many of such vehicle owners who neither work nor have any concrete reason passing through the airport now prefer to do so through the Beesam/Oshodi link roads.
While there are those who work at the Island and other parts of Lagos who prefer to drive through the airport without minding paying between N300 and N500, or even more, depending on the vehicle type at the toll gate at the airport, those who use the Beesam /Mafoluku axis to link the airport do so without paying.
Many of these regular airport road users have attributed reasons for their preference to drive through the airport to the state of bad roads and the subsequent heavy congestion the bad roads have created around Lagos.
Some even expressed their readiness to pay up to N1000 or any amount the airport authorities demand from them at the tollgate as long as they are allowed to drive out to their final destinations through the airport.
The actual fact is that many of those not working at the airport but prefer to drive through it are escaping from the stress of driving through the terrible roads and the endless hours of traffic to get home after a hard day’s job.
While Crucial Moment sympathises with this group of people who are paying for the bad governance owing to years of neglect by the state and federal governments, one, however should not get carried away in view of the negative implications this action may have on the airport activities very soon.
Allowing such huge numbers of vehicles, including trucks and trailers access to constantly drive through the airport has two immediate consequences which if the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) fails to urgently address, may defeat the move to make the airport a hub.
One of the consequences of having the airport road blocked with too many vehicles from all over Lagos lies in the danger it poses to emergency situations which may occur in the course of flight activities viz a viz during aircraft take off or landing.
What made last Thursday’s congestion so bad was that an ambulance carrying a distressed person to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) was caught up in the traffic.
With the driver of the ambulance blasting the emergency siren, there was no way for him to maneuver his way through the tight congestion. Only God knows what became the fate of the sick person.
Therefore, among such questions calling for answers include: what if there is a case of accident or incident involving an aircraft and there is the need to rush the affected passengers to the nearest hospital? Will such victims not pay for this loose access to the airport with their blood?
Besides, if care is not taken, very, very soon, the Lagos airport road may soon join the list of bad roads in the state which may not be easy for FAAN to manage along-side the barrage of other challenges its grappling with.
Another consequence of opening up the airport to unlimited users lies in the danger it poses to the airport security at this time Nigeria is battling to curtail the activities of the Boko Haram sect and other dangerous groups. It is very easy for any of these undesirable elements to unleash havoc on the airport under the pretextof driving through the airport.
FAAN may think it’s generating money through the unlimited access given to these motorists but whatever it’s generating may not be enough to address the negative consequences of the result. There is, therefore, an urgent need to reduce the number of the vehicular movements coming into the airport.