In October 2009, the travel website The Guide to Sleeping in Airports named the Port Harcourt International Airport, as the ‘The World’s Worst Airport’ in its 2015 list of World’s Worst Airports. Yesterday morning, Twitter-Nigeria was abuzz with the hash tag #FixPortharcourtAirportNow initiated by Seun Okin of Channels TV, with pictures of the deplorable and grossly unfortunate state of the international airport.
What is it about the Port Harcourt International airport that it continues to find its way into the news for all the wrong reasons even in this New Year 2016?
An airport is usually the first travel experience visitors get about a city or country, especially first time visitors, thereby making a great and lasting impression. So ideally an airport, much less an international one, is supposed to be positioned to make a positive first impression upon visitors. But for years, Nigerians and foreigners alike continue to lament the deplorable state of Nigerian airports – a leaky roof here, a non-functional toilet facility there, and corrupt officials who are not ashamed to openly ask for tips from passengers – an indictment on the corrupt and lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian authorities.
The Port Harcourt international airport located at Omagwa services over a million passengers, both local and international travelers, in 2009, making it the third busiest airport in Nigeria, after Lagos (MMIA) and Abuja (NAIA). It had undergone different stages of repairs; in late 2006, the airport was temporary shut down for some emergency overhaul of terminals and parameter fencing, and every time it continues to look like nothing has changed.
The first time this writer passed through the Dubai airport, he felt so embarrassed by the sheer architectural beauty and cleanliness of that airport having only exited the MMA few hours before. Nigerians are proud people; Port Harcourt people love to be proud of their own, and it causes us so much embarrassment every time our city is in the news for the wrong reasons. This goes out to the appropriate authorities, we stand with Seun Okin, please, #FixPortharcourtAirportNow! Stop causing us national and global embarrassment.
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