Amidst several humiliations of Nigeria travellers and visitors to South Africa are the illegal deportation fees charged into their airfare by Ethiopian Airlines (ET) for Nigeria travelling to and through South Africa route. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has now ordered the airline to stop the collection of what the airline called “refundable deportation fee”, saying such fees are unauthorised by the agency.
The charges which range between $75 and $150 per passenger are compelled on all passengers before boarding Ethiopian Airlines enroute to South Africa.
In an official statement issued on Sunday signed by the agency’s General Manager, Public Relations, Sam Adurogboye, NCAA disclosed that it has received several complaints from passengers that have suffered this fate. And investigation to this has revealed that all outbound passengers to South Africa from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos and Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, transiting through Addis Ababa, are liable to pay $75 dollars. However, if your transiting time is 24 hours or beyond, the passenger will pay $150 dollars.
‘While passengers are not given prior notice concerning these charges before arriving at the airports, some were made to sign undertaken to be responsible for all expenses incurred if deported’, NCAA stated.
Though the Ethiopian Airlines’ during a summon by the regulator has claimed the fees were always refunded when a passenger was not deported but this did not go well with the NCAA as it is viewed as a violation of the Authority’s extant Regulations requiring all air carriers to obtain approval from the Authority in advance, there is an acceptable need to introduce or increase add-on charges or surcharges before implementation.
NCAA noted that till date, the agency has not received any request for fare increase, tariff or add-ons from the airline and to that extent such charges are illegal charges and must be stopped.
The action of the Ethiopian airlines may not be unconnected with the continued arrest and humiliation of Nigerians and other citizen of Africa countries in South Africa for what the South Africa see as losing jobs to other nationality even for jobs they are not willing or have the capacity to do.
Tougher laws and requirement have been put to deter mostly Nigerians from obtaining legal documents for stay leading to continued harassment by the local law enforcement agents, deportation and xenophobic attacks on the street
There is a growing number of Nigerian communities in South Africa. Some of them have suffered a series of xenophobic attacks in parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria since 2008. Recently, 90 Nigerians were deported from South Africa and flown back to Nigeria, Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos from Johannesburg by a South African Airways.