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Passengers condemn rising luggage theft at Lagos airport

By on November 8, 2014

Passengers using the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos have decried the rising cases of missing items from their checked-in luggage.

Accordingly, they have called on the relevant authorities to come up with lasting solutions to ensure that cases of luggage theft and missing items are eliminated.

Some passengers, who spoke to our correspondent on the development, said it was embarrassing that luggage were being stolen or tampered with in this day and age.

The called on the government and managers of the airport to put in place necessary checks to ensure that the menace was curbed.

A passenger, Ms Bunmi Stevens, who returned from Dubai at the end of October, told our correspondent that her laptop was stolen from her check-in luggage.

She said, “My mistake was that I should have taken my laptop from my box and hold it as a hand luggage, but I forgot and only remembered long after my box had been checked-in.

“I only discovered after I got to my hotel in Dubai that my box, which I locked by the way, had been broken into, and my laptop was taken. The distance between where I was lodged and the Dubai airport was almost three hours; therefore, I could not return to lodge a complaint on time.”

Stevens said that on her way back to the country, she was able to lodge a complaint with an official of the airline, who told her it must have occurred in Nigeria in the process of luggage handling.

“I do believe it happened in Nigeria and I find it rather shameful that passengers’ luggage should be tampered with in this day and age. I thought we were gone past such things in this country,” she said.

Mr. Tola Ojulari, another frequent flyer, told our correspondent that a similar thing happened to his sister who went to Canada a few months ago.

He said, “I can’t recall the flight now, but on getting off her flight, she discovered that a small pouch where she kept some of the extra cash she didn’t want to carry in her handbag was missing. She complained to the airline and they told her they would look into the issue.

“She kept calling for some time, but they kept pushing her back and forth, saying they were also trying to investigate and awaiting feedback from the take-off point. After a while, she got tired and let the issue die down.

“I just think situations like this can be avoided if there are cameras in strategic locations around the areas where the luggage pass through, and the recordings can be viewed on request if something like this comes up.”

A staff of Etihad Airlines, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said most of the airlines were getting reports of missing luggage from time to time.

He said, “It happens once in a while, where passengers come to complain that they discovered that some items in their luggage were stolen by the time they reached their destinations.

“More often than not, we believe the blame for such should go to the handling companies managing the airlines, because once the passengers’ luggage is checked in, the handling companies take charge of the loading and offloading.”

The Manager, Corporate Communications and Branding, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc, Mr. Tayo Ajakaye, said apart from the handling companies, some other organisations had access to the luggage.

He said, “Let me point out that the delivery chain at the airport is a fairly familiar one. You check in your luggage, you hand it to someone who places it in an aircraft. The aircraft is in possession of your luggage until it gets to the destination and then the ground handlers take charge. In some cases, the Customs may also get involved. It is a chain that can be breached at any of these points.

“However, as a company, we have professional code of ethics under which all staff members operate. We expect all our workers to abide by this code all the time. Anybody who is found to deviate is instantly made to undergo our internal processes. If he is found guilty, such a person is sanctioned accordingly.”