There was chaos at the arrival terminals of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, on Sunday night, following the insistence of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) that each arriving foreigner should pay the sum $20 as service charge.
The chaos at the terminal led to rip-off of some of the foreign travellers by business centre operators at the arrival hall of the terminal, who charged each foreign traveller between N7,000 and N10,000, before they could fill the form for them online.
New Port is a concessionaire to NIS on service charge.
Before now, foreign travellers or Nigerians with foreign international passports were made to pay the sum with their Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, or pay prior to their arrival in the country.
For those who chose to pay the charge in Nigeria, Point of Sale (POS) machines were deployed for them at the immigration desks. However, over the weekend, the concessionaire suspended the POS payment policy and asked the travellers to register for the form online, while payment was done with their ATM cards.
This abrupt change in policy caused chaos at the airport, as many travellers had to spend extra hours at the port of entry before they could be allowed into the country.
Curiously, one of the affected travellers from Qatar observed that the payment of the $20 did not reflect among the series of payments he made, and queried why this was so.
The immigration officer at the desk referred him to the concessionaire, New Work, who could also not give a satisfactory answer to his enquiry.
A source confided in our correspondent that the new policy runs contrary to the Nigerian government’s Executive Order policy, which canvasses smoother movement of travellers and business persons into the country.
The source said: “These concessionaires of immigration are making rubbish of the government’s policies. They are only concerned about revenue generation and care less about the services rendered to travellers.
“On Sunday night, passengers, who arrived the country via Turkish Airlines, could not regularize their entry into Nigeria until 10pm, which was about three hours after they arrived the country.
“New Works, the concessionaire of immigration, charged them $20 each as service charge, irrespective of country of origin. They said they should raise the identity card themselves, while they still paid with their credit cards. The $20 is a flat rate for all foreign travellers, except those in transit. Even if you are to pay $1 as visa on arrival, they still charge you extra $20 as service charge, which is a huge exploitation.
“Several of the passengers were making wrong payments to the platform. The concessionaires are just exploiting people. The business centres within the airport that most of them thronged to charged them between N7,000 and N10,000, which is apart from the $20 service charge.”
Before a foreigner is allowed into the country, they require a letter of approval from the Comptroller-General of Immigration, with visa payment either done from the country of departure or on arrival in the country.
The service was sometime in the news for the wrong reasons in 2018.
The service had introduced the collection of $90 biometric visa-on-arrival policy, but had to suspend it due to the outcry that followed the implementation.
The command, through its concessionaire, Online Integrated Service (OIS), had introduced the $90 biometric visa on arrival, and additional $20 as service charge processes for foreigners who were entering the country, despite the fact that they had already paid for visas from their respective countries.