The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has hiked the toll rate of pre-paid users accessing the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, by 300 per cent. The one-off yearly renewal that erstwhile cost N10, 000 per private vehicle, now costs N40, 000.
Meanwhile, the authority has paid workers on grade level eight and above half salary for the month of July, raising speculations that the management may have slashed salary of senior workers by 50 per cent.
The workers, who got paid some days ago, received half of their monthly salary, while the junior workers got their full remuneration. The authority, which caters for about 10000 workforce nationwide, has been cash-strapped since COVID-19 restricted both local and international commercial flights, with attendant revenue loss.
Operators at the airport and other regular users of the Lagos access toll plaza found that a section of the tolling has increased, while the regular pay-as-you-go booth rates remain the same.
A visit to Room 501 at the international terminal of the airport confirmed the development. An official of FAAN, saddled with the processing, Mrs. Musa, said N40, 000 was the new flat rate per vehicle, coupled with official letter of request from the company and details of the beneficiary vehicle.
“All I can tell you is, that is the rate now,” she said. Recall that a coalition of unions – Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) – on February 4, 2020 took over the toll plaza, citing the expiration of Integrated Intelligent Imaging West Africa Limited’s (I-Cube) five-year contract since February 2019.
I-Cube had earlier collected N10, 000 for renewal and N15, 000 for new applicants, remitting N68m to FAAN every month. With FAAN directly collecting toll at the plaza, the unions lately pegged the monthly earnings of the facility at N100.
FAAN earlier raised Passenger Service Charge (PSC) by 100 per cent. The management, in a memo, notified airlines that effective August 1, 2020, PSC rate would increase from N1000 to N2000 for domestic flight passengers and from the former $50 to $100 for international travellers. With the prospect of rise in revenue, some FAAN workers were surprised last Wednesday to receive 50 per cent of their salaries for July without prior notice.
The FAAN management had in May hinted on the plan to half salary, as part of measures of coping with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary General of ANAP, Abdulrazak Saidu, said the development was brought to their notice Wednesday night by affected staff. Saidu noted that staff on grade levels 1-7 received their full salaries, adding that the management had promised to pay others the 50 per cent balance next week. He, however, said they were displeased, as the management did not notify them of the plan before going ahead to execute it, adding that with the public holidays, there was nothing the unions could do than to wait till work resumes.
Saidu said: “Besides the economic constraints of the pandemic, FAAN management was insolvent, due to “the huge overhead of over N3b monthly for payment of salaries of staff and retirees.
“The bill was jacked up last year with the employment of over 700 people into the aviation security and fire departments, as directed by the Ministry of Aviation. The FAAN work force was getting close to over 8,000-plus, which includes the current staff of about 5,000 and retirees, pensioners of over 4,000. The workers are so angry and asking why must FAAN be different? NAMA and NCAA have paid.”
The General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Ocheme Aba, said they were still in shock over the current action, as their members were agitated. He explained that FAAN management should have informed their branch chairmen about the decision, rather than pay before informing them.
“Last night, the information we heard was that they paid half salary because they didn’t want to delay payment, so that some people would have money for Salah and that they will pay the balance by Tuesday next week. That was the information that came from the Director of Finance.
“But they didn’t inform us earlier about it. I don’t just understand them. They were struggling to complete the money but it didn’t work, so they decided to pay 50 per cent. They should have informed us to avert misunderstanding. As I speak to you, because this information has not gone round, all FAAN branches nationwide are mobilising for shutdown next week. That is what would have happened because of lack of information,” Aba said.