One of the recurring problems in Nigeria’s aviation sector has been fake air travel agencies. These scammers have defrauded intending passengers millions of naira on several occasions as a result of the porousity of the industry.
There is no entry or exit barrier for air travel agencies in the country so, it has become an all comers’ affair even for fraudsters. Some companies hide under the guise of travel agency for human trafficking and ridiculing the nation’s integrity at the embassies of other countries because there are no records of the real practitioners.
As a result of this problem, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bernard Bankole, led a delegation to the presidency to solicit support for a new ID card initiative.
“We were made to understand that even the office of Presidency was defrauded by travel agency and they later caught the fellow in Benin. We went to Kano to meet the Emir of Kano, only to found that one of his aides was in fact defrauded. The point is that they are everywhere because no one has made move to arrest them. They have seen that there is a vacuum and that is what we are about to close.
Insisting that the members within the industry must be checked, we have introduced an industry Identification Card.
“This card I’m talking about is an industry ID card not NANTA card. It is called the Nigeria Travel Practitioners’ Identification Card (NTPIC). On this ID card, we got the foreign and local airlines, the GDS networks, for issuance of tickets also involved. We got the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (their legal and finance teams) involved, to ensure that we are in line with what we do, so that no member is feeling exploited at the end” he said.
The ID card which is being designed to have barcodes connected to the holder’s Bank Verification Number (BVN) is expected to be launched on June 26, 2018 in Lagos, by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
After the launch of this ID card, no intending passenger should buy ticket without first demanding for the ID card of the travel agent to verify that he or she is genuine.
With this innovation, passengers can tell whether an agent is genuine or not; because you can scan the barcode on your mobile device and immediately receive a message that is in line with the card that you are holding. So, it is a bit difficult to duplicate.
While industry observers are anxiously waiting for the begin of this new era, the signs are promising that the ID card will be a means to checkmate fraudulent people that will see that the industry boom and attract genuine investors.
Wide sensitization about this initiative should start earnestly so that the public can easily tap into this system when it takes off. The NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should carry along the general public too, so that they can all know what to look out for.