MMIA NIS Comptroller Abdullahi Usman, made this known yesterday as he rolled out migration figures through the MMIA during and post COVID-19 lock down stressing that air travel protocols will never be the same again.
According to the Immigration Comptroller, things have changed to the minutest details of how passengers access the country stating that although there were initial challenges because the processes were new, it has gotten better.
He said,” With this reopening of the airport, September 5th, 2020 the Controller General deployed more number of Migrants Data Analysis (MIDAS) to mount the counters for ease and seamless passenger clearance.
“The MIDAS we had before were 20 machines because MIDAS is work in progress but now we have about 42 as all the counters are equipped with MIDAS now. That would facilitate on the issue of clearance,” he said.
On statistics of flights handled during the lock down till present day so far, Usman gave detailed analysis of inbound and outbound flights supporting with passenger figures.
He said,”Within the COVID times which is the 23rd March 2020, we undertook evacuation exercises during this COVID times we had 300 number of flights that departed during the Covid-19 times on evacuation exercises, 25, 735 passengers were involved on evacuation time
“During the evacuation time, we had arrival of Nigerian returnees and some expatriate essential workers and on arrival during the COVID again, we had 216 flights within the COVID, normal passengers involved on arrival during the COVID times involving Nigerian returnees and essential workers are 12,300 plus.”
“The post COVID lock down which we said the airport was opened on 5th September 2020, in this we have experienced 99 departure flights when the airport was open with about 10, 000 passengers that departed.
“Arrival within the relaxed lock down we had 93 flights and in this 93 flights we had 11,000 plus passengers that arrived,” he said.
On the effects of COVID on operations he said, “Honestly, with this COVID our operations are not going to be same again. We have donned the proactive measures with the support of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Services. The counters are properly shielded, our officers are properly kitted with masks, hand gloves, and sanitizers are all available to support the staff
“The proactive measures we took now when passengers arrive and disembark, no more rushing because the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) protocol is in place, that passengers will be coming in number in tens(10s) after going through Port Health Services, in that number they come into the immigration counters.
“We experience some challenges because we just started but the challenges today is over because the challenges were passengers say they were not aware of the online NCDC platform, those one that have not paid online, …We have no problem for now.”