Despite efforts to increase security at the country’s airports, cases of passengers losing items in their baggage to unknown persons is on the increase.
Although official figures obtained from the Consumer Protection Department of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority showed a little difference in recorded cases in the first three quarters of this year on domestic routes, it was learnt that many cases remained unreported.
Between January and September this year, 2,131 cases of pilferage were reported by passengers on international flights, while 53 cases were officially recorded on domestic routes.
Our correspondent found that most of the cases were not reported by the victims because they often discovered the theft after they had arrived at their final destinations.
One of such victims, Mr. Michael Adegbola, said his baggage was opened and some items taken out of it when he boarded a Virgin Atlantic aircraft from London to Lagos on October 29.
“I left London on the 29th of October on Virgin Atlantic and arrived on the 30th. As usual, I took my two luggage and went home. But on getting home, I discovered that one had been tampered with. I later found out that some of the items I bought for my children had been taken,” he said.
Another victim, Mr. Victor Ani, said he lost a Hewlett Packard mini laptop, which he had in his luggage on his way from Dubai in July, adding that he did not discover the theft until the day after his arrival.
Like Adegbola and Ani, many of the affected people who spoke with our correspondent, said they never had the opportunity to complain officially because they only got to know of the loss of their items when they arrived home or after a few days.
The Chief Operating Officer, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc, Mr. Hassan Yahaya, said passengers were expected to report any discrepancy at the point of collection of baggage at the airports.
“A passenger is expected to report any discrepancy at the point of collection of bag(s), wait for appropriate documentation; collect his or her copy of document as evidence, and follow up with the handler and airline as advised by the customer agent,” he said.
He added that plans were in place for remote monitoring of baggage storage facilities and that maximum penalty would imposed on established culprits.
“There has also been provision of communication gadgets to reach out to passengers who missed their luggage for collection,” he said.
Although efforts to reach the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, operators of airports across the country failed, the General Manager, the Public Relations, NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, said passengers needed to be educated on how to handle their baggage at airports.
He said, “Pilfering is not limited to Nigerian airports or airlines coming in and going out of the country alone; it is a worldwide problem but as a passenger, if you fly an airplane, you check your luggage as soon as you get hold of it on arrival.
“Check before leaving the terminal and if you discover any pilfering, you report to the airline immediately. But if you wait till you get home, nobody will take responsibility for that. Passengers need to know that nobody is responsible for them anymore when they leave the airport.”