Home Uncategorized Interview: Shinaba speaks on efforts to sanitize MMIA, airport management

Interview: Shinaba speaks on efforts to sanitize MMIA, airport management

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Mrs Victoria Shinaba , Airport manager, MMIA Lagos

 

 


Mrs. Shin-Aba is the Airport Manager of Murtala Mohammed I nternational Airport (MMIA). In this interview, the airport manager speaks on the roles the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are playing to see that air passengers have smooth and seamless travel experience at the airport. She also spoke on plans put in place to see that MMIA sustains the aerodrome certification it got recently from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Excerpts:

Tell us how effective and successful the “Ease Of Doing Business” recently issued by the Presidency in terms of airport operations with regards to FAAN?

Since the directive of Executive Order came, it has been a great departure from what it used to be in the past. Before it came, our airports were known to be unfriendly and there were cases of extortion and so many other activities that bedeviled the industry. But since the Executive Order was issued, every agency keyed into it, including FAAN which is the arrowhead. You know we have many other agencies at the airport such as NCAA, NAMA, NDLEA, NiMet, Quarantine and others that facilitate passengers’ services. We were however able to collapse all these functions into one phase. According to what EO1 stipulates, we are supposed to have just one interface with the passengers. The greatest thing that gave me joy was the elimination of the search table. It has been a sore point in our facilitations of passengers’ services. This the only airport where people open other peoples’ bags. They go into their privacies because of “I don’t know whatever”. But as soon as that order came, the search table disappeared. We are still having issues with drugs but we have new equipment that is coming up, so that these things can be detected. We are trying also try to see if we can have sniffer dogs that can detect all these things. It is not a one-stop solution when it comes to drugs but we are trying to see to it. FAAN has really tried honestly. We used to have just two machines at the entrance; now we have four. Even the old ones have been changed, so all the machines we have at our departure entrance are new. There is another one at the arrival hall; another at the staff gate. Though, we have not started operating it now but it has been mounted. There is also another new one at the baggage hall just to meet up with the Executive Order. The fact remains that we have not really gotten 100% when it comes to drug issue but we are working towards that. At the end of the day, it is going to be a multi-approach to it. Going in with your hand-held baggage, we can handle that.

There is still this issue of the distance between where passengers park their vehicles and trekking down to departure hall. We have a multi-storey car park. Why is it not yet functioning so that the distance to be covered by passengers would be reduced before they enter the departure hall?

We know how it is done abroad. There, when you reach at the car park, you register at a point. Then they will use a radio to call the car to come to the front and park. That is what we want to do. We want to have a meeting on that with the heads of car operators. We are working out modalities to address that and we want to constitute a committee in the next meeting we are having. And if need be, they will make recommendations and bring it to the house for us to review. We know what to do and what we want. At the end of the day, sanity will be restored. We have cubicles inside; so when a vehicle gets to that cubicle, you will register and keep the passengers, then leave. We don’t want a situation where people loiter or park vehicles unnecessarily within the terminal building.

Ma, we also have people who sell foreign currencies milling around the airport. How are you planning to eliminate these people, considering that they also have shops within the airport premises?

By the time, the multi-storey car park is completed and people move in there, the temporary car park will be utilized. We will move down other vehicles that mill around these areas to that place.
How are you also planning to tackle the problems of obstructions caused by the road construction of the 10-lane road along the MMIA road. Don’t you think it is posing some challenges to air passengers coming to the airport?

You know the existing two lanes are not going to be tampered with. If you noticed what they are doing, they are working at the two lanes. So the two lanes are open for traffic. Until, they finish these two lanes, then they can now move into the existing one. But then, there is no way there wouldn’t be issues of traffic once in a while. On our side, we are planning to educate passengers and advise them to come, maybe earlier than normal. We will be talking to Lagos State if they can work on the internal roads so that people can have alternative routes to the airport. We are working with the contractors and our headquarters are talking to Lagos State representatives too. We are really collaborating and we will make sure that whatever happens will not affect the passengers.

MMIA seems to be one of the biggest airports in Nigeria. I am aware you have managed other airports successfully. Being theAirport Manager of MMIA now, what are your major challenges in managing such a big airport?

I have been around for some time now and there is no terminal I have not worked before I became head of operations. I have a wealth of knowledge in the job and I rose through the ranks before I got to where I am today. And you see, when you have done one thing for some time; at a point it becomes part of you.

What is FAAN doing to see that other smaller airports in some states, apart from the viable ones achieve optimally operations like doing night and day operations regularly?

You have to weigh many things in considering that. Some of those airports are there but they are more of a social responsibility other than a commercial venture. I think all over the world, people are not doing that. That is why they need to be subsidized because the number of staff you have in Akure Airport for example, is the number you have in Benin Airport that has up to 4 to 5 flights daily. However, they need to be subsidized. If the airport is open, every facilities and staff must be on ground and it doesn’t come cheap.

What are your views on State Government venturing into building airports in their states?

It is all parts of what it takes to run an airport. You can run an airport without a terminal building but you can’t run an airport without a runway, apron, fire cover and some level of navigational aids. The first thing these states di is to clear a place and put up a terminal building. But to me, all that is needed is for the states to join hands together with the existing one in their region and make it work and more viable. For example, Ondo State is elaborating with Air Peace and Overland Airways now. There is nothing wrong with Ekiti collaborating with another airline. You see, when traffic grows, the airport grows. If there is no traffic, the airport cannot grow. Ekiti can say we want to do cargo because we have we have cocoa, oil and other mineral resources. They can invite an airline to ferry their products across the country or maybe a chartered flight over the seas. That is what we need.

In some states, the state governments tend to support the airports located there while it is not so in some states. What can you say about state governments supporting airports in their states because I know FAAN cannot do it alone?

The message is that the state should see the airport as their airport. It is located in their domain and it is serving the people. When they have these airports, they should collaborate with the federal government, especially FAAN to improve on the airport facilities because it improves their economy at the end of the day. There is a way the airports rubs off on the economy of the state. But most of them don’t understand. Honestly, it will be to their own interest. In Akure, the government is trying. Calabar and Benin are also trying. Benin for example, is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Aviation to see that they make sure that the airport is improved upon. See what Lagos State is also doing with the 10-lane airport road. At the end of the day, the state will gain, FAAN will gain and the economy of people around the axis will be improved. So any money spent on the airport by the state is not a wasted money. Of course we still pay our tax to the state.

How do you cope with your domestic chores and your tight schedule as the Airport Manager, considering the fact that you are a mother?
One luck I have is that my children are grown ups. I don’t really have that issue because I have them early. Before I started having management positions, they have already grown-ups. They understand the nature of my job and they cooperate.

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