Some passengers of British Airways enroute London and United States of America (USA) to Lagos, Nigeria have called for compensation from the airline for abandoning them in Abuja.
Some of them who spoke to the News Men in Abuja on Thursday, described the development as `unacceptable’.
Mrs Chinelo Etiaba, a passenger from London, said the airline did not provide adequate information for the passengers.
“We arrived on BA yesterday evening from London to Abuja, they could not land in Lagos which was the reason why they brought us here and we got here about 7 a.m..
“It took them about four hours to get us to Sheraton. We got to Sheraton, there were no rooms because they did not make adequate provision.
“Right now, they asked us to get to the airport with no means of transportation. We know that it is not BA’s fault that the weather was unmanageable but the least they could have done was to keep us updated.
“We are over 300 passengers and they provided only two buses. How are we going to get 321 people to the airport which is about 45 minutes from here to board a flight that is supposed to leave at 2. 45pm.
“There were three girls that are supposed to be meeting somebody in Lagos, they knew no one in Abuja so I had to pay for them and I also paid for my cab because the bus could not carry them,’’ she said.
Chief Young Ewina, a passenger from London, described the services from the airline as substandard.
Ewina said that although he was on medication, he had not been able to access the medication which was on board the flight.
“BA just abandoned us here. They did not even provide transportation for some of us from the airport. They said we should come to Sheraton hotel, we all came here but they made arrangement for less than 200 people.
“Out of the 321 passengers, we all slept outside and we have elderly people here. We are on medication and they said paramedics will be here, but there is nothing like that,’’ he lamented.
Ms Theresa Nwabueze, also a passenger from London, said the airline should have a contingency plan for its passengers.
“What am saying is that BA is taking us for granted. We were not meant to be here in Abuja. We booked our flight from London to Lagos.
“We understand that the weather made us come here but when we came here, they just left us to fend for ourselves which is not acceptable and now, they have sent us text to be at the airport now and there is no bus to take us there.
“People are paying for taxi to get to the airport. I haven’t got money, I did not plan for this and if BA has decided to leave us here, they should make a contingency plan for us.
“If they have the capacity to carry a flight of 321 people, they should have a plan for that in case if anything happens.
“We are not accepting this, we have been treated like slaves in our own country,’’ she lamented.
Reacting to the passengers’ complaints, Mr Babatunde Irukera, the Director-General of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), said he had contacted the airline about the situation.
Irukera said that although the airline had made enough arrangement to transport everyone from the hotel to Lagos, the commission would issue summons to them.
“Our understanding is that the flight to Lagos will depart momentarily. BA has made arrangement to transport everyone from here to the airport.
“However, with respect to what has happened in the intervening hours, we are already issuing summons to British Airline.
“I understand that there has been technical difficulties, weather related problems with landing flights in Lagos. On the account of that, British airways diverted their flight to Abuja which is understandable.
“What seem to have been the problems have been managing the process with respect to sensitivity and responsiveness to passengers,’’ he explained.
He called on airline operators to wrap-up their crisis management and responsiveness apparatus to priotise their passengers’ feelings.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no official of the airline was on ground to answer questions from the media at the time of this report.
The Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Slyva, said that about one billion barrels of crude oil have been discovered in north eastern part of Nigeria, the same zone of destabilising insurgency by Boko Haram.
Sylva made the disclosure at a news Conference to end the 2020 Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), in Abuja on Wednesday. He did not give the specific location, but the NNPC began last year oil exploration in Kolmani River, part of the Benue trough.
“The figure we are getting, the jury is not totally out yet but from the evaluation results we are getting the reserve that has been discovered in the northeast is about a billion barrels.
“Those are the kind of figures we are seeing and we are beginning to understand the geological structure of the region,” he said.
According to him, a lot of oil is yet to be found in the country.
He added that there was need for more exploration in the country as more oil would be discovered.
Commenting on passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill ( PIB) by June, he said that he was confident that it would be passed based on cordial relationship between the legislature and the executive.
“We are banking on the fact today to make that promise on the fact that there is a very cordial relationship now between the legislature and executive.
” Today Nigerians all agree that there is a need for us to pass the PIB.
” For so long we have been quivering about the PIB, for more than 20 years. And for so long, we have not been able to attract a lot of investment into the oil sector.
” Let me give you an example, by the year 2002, our oil reserves stood at around 22 billion barrels. We were able to grow that reserve from 22 billion barrels to 37 billion barrels by 2007.
” From 2007 to now, we have only been able to grow our reserves from 37 billion barrels to 37.5 billion barrels, in more than 10 years. Why? Not much investment is coming into Nigeria,” he added.
He noted that investors could not invest in Nigeria if the fiscal framework was shaky or uncertain.
“If nobody knows when laws will be passed, nobody will want to invest new capital in Nigeria. And that is why you see that we have almost been stagnant in the Nigerian oil industry.
So, we believe today that there is a consensus among all of us – industry, Nigerians and government – that there is a need to stabilise the fiscal framework so that investors will be certain and move their money to Nigeria.
” There are very great opportunities in Nigeria, and I believe if we can only stabilise the fiscal framework and bring peace to Nigeria, investments will flow into Nigeria.
“That is really what gives me the confidence to say that there is a consensus now among all patriotic Nigerians that in six months the PIB will be passed,” he added.