Air passengers plying the Kaduna International Airport (KIA) are facing fresh hurdles as airlines operating at the aerodrome are insisting on only cash transactions.
The newly refurbished airport, which also serves as an alternative to the closed Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, is currently operating without Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Point of Sale (PoS) and Bureau de Change (BDC) outlets to serve international passengers especially. Some passengers without cash to buy tickets or prior booking arrangements are left stranded at the airport.
The development is coming at a time the Federal Government is working to ensure a seamless transition, as the airport is the only route to connect the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which is the seat of the government. Besides, the cash-only syndrome runs contrary to the cashless policy of the economy.
The Guardian learnt that a family of six was among those stranded at the weekend and unable to travel. A traveller, Samson Akinsiku said it was shocking to find airlines rejecting debit cards, and saying there was no PoS.
“There are three of the airlines heading to Lagos almost at the same time, which is good anyway. To buy ticket became the problem. The first said its PoS was not working, the other two said they did not even have at all. And this is supposed to be an international airport? I didn’t know how big the shit was until I asked for an ATM and they said there was none around, except if I go to town some 10 to 20kilomatres away,” he said.
Another traveller, Emmanuel, also expressed concerns on services rendered by airlines officials at the airport, who insisted on closing the counter by 4:00 p.m. Emmanuel, who travelled by rail from Abuja yesterday to catch a Lagos flight, was shocked to find the airline’s counter closed by 4:30p.m. When he insisted on flying, since the aircraft was still on ground and seats available, he was given a bill of N28, 000 instead of N16, 000 promo fare. Emmanuel got a hand-written boarding pass in exchange for the N28, 000.
When asked why the airline had no PoS and the counter closed early, an Arik Air official said it was the norm around there. “That is how we operate here. We don’t use PoS. You either bring your money or forget it,” the official fired back.
The Communications Manager for Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa said the development was unusual and they were doing everything possible to go cashless in Kaduna by today or tomorrow.
“We have been on this for a while. But it is the banks that kept delaying us. We pushed them all through last week to put the necessary things in place. We know its importance to making passengers have seamless travel experience and we will stop at nothing to have the PoS option working. If not today, then Tuesday latest,” he said.
The Spokesperson of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Henrietta Yakubu, also confirmed that the banks were in the process of beginning operations at the airport, to support transactions, whether cash or cashless.
Yakubu assured that the likes of Zenith, Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB) and First Bank were due to begin operations and open ATM facilities this week.
It was also learnt yesterday that the Nigeria International Trade and Investment Conference (NITIC) 2017 scheduled to hold this month in Abuja has been postponed.
The organisers, Africa International Trade and Development Trust, said the postponement was due to ongoing repairs on the runway of the Abuja airport.
The conference with the theme “Multiple Frontiers: Moving Away From Oil” is aimed at bringing local and international stakeholders together to discuss international trade and investment in the non-oil sector, focusing on agribusiness, manufacturing and financial services.
The event endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development initially scheduled to hold this month at the NAF Conference Centre in Abuja would now take place in June at the same venue.
The spokesperson for the organisers, Sand Mba Kalu said: “Efforts to convince registered participants and embassies to use the Kaduna International Airport were not successful. We have talked to several of them but they seemed not interested in coming through Kaduna airport. So, the only option was to postpone the event to June when renovation work at the Abuja airport runway would have been completed.”