Passengers travelling through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, are having a harrowing experience getting cleared, as four of the five screening machines at the airport have broken down.
The machines, bought in 2013 in a multi-million-naira project undertaken by former Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, have been breaking down one after the other over the past three years.
Various security agencies at the screening points now screen the luggage of travellers manually because of the sordid situation.
Back then, Oduah claimed she procured about 200 of the machines in Europe at an undisclosed amount of money, but the manufacturers of the machines were unknown in the manufacturing of aviation security gadgets.
A source close to the Ministry of Transportation, Aviation Unit, said that engineers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), rather than carry out repairs on the machines whenever they break down, have been cannibalising the machines as their spare parts are not available in the market.
At times, the engineers cannibalised some of the screening machines in other airports in order to make the others functional.
With four of the five machines broken down at the Lagos Airport on Friday, there was gridlock at the departure hall of the airport. There are five wings at the departure hall of the Lagos airport with each having a screening machine attached to it.
A FAAN source told our correspondent that the four machines had mechanical faults. It was gathered that at times, when FAAN contacted the manufacturers of the screening machines whenever any of them went bad, the producers, through their Nigerian representatives, billed FAAN as much as N200m for repairs.
It was learnt that training of FAAN staff on the use and maintenance of the equipment was part of the agreements reached with the manufacturers of the equipment, but since the machines were procured in 2013, nothing has been done in that regard.
The source said: “Oduah, in company of former Director of Security in FAAN, one Mr. Ogunnedo, went to one of the European countries to procure these machines. These were not the original machines penciled down for procurement, but when Oduah came into the picture, she procured these sets of screening machines, from just a company that is not even known in aviation security.
“Since these machines were procured, they have been breaking down one after the other. The sad thing is that the spares are not available in the market and when FAAN contacted the manufacturers, we were sent to their representatives in Nigeria, who have been exploiting us. Rather than carry out repairs, FAAN engineers do cannibalisation of the equipment.
“At times, FAAN went as far as the northern states to carnibalise an equipment in exchange of the other. There were times when the machines were switched off as a result of inadequate manpower, but the current crisis has nothing to do with inadequate manpower; it is about total breakdown of the equipment. The passengers are subjected to rigorous manual checks as a result of the breakdown, which is not what the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommended.”