…as South African immigration is accused of frustrating process
By Samson Echenim
Air Peace says the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa will cost the airline about N300 million, which include the payment of passenger service charge, aeronautical and other charges in addition to the cost of operation.
The airline offered to evacuate 630 Nigerians in South Africa who are said to not have regular migration documents as xenophobic attacks on citizens of the West African biggest economy reached climax.
However, as the airline made to begin evacuation of 320 Nigerians in its first batch, Business a.m has learnt that South Africa immigration is making deliberate attempt to frustrate the process, by arresting Nigerians due to travel back to their country.
An official of Nigerian High Commission in South Africa said the immigration was demanding papers and accusing Nigerians due for evacuation of travelling without right documentation, thereby frustrating the evacuation of those who have been readied for the first batch of airlift from that country.
As at the time of filing this report, the official said that of the 320 readied to be evacuated, only 182 have been allowed to board.
Air Peace flight, which left Nigeria 11:30 pm on Tuesday arrived OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg about 4:00 am on Wednesday and Nigerians have turned up for the airlift.
“South Africa is frustrating Nigeria. The Air Peace aircraft has been there since 4:00 am. Their immigration started giving our high commission problems. They said some Nigerians didn’t have papers.
Immigration is arresting them, asking them to explain how they came to South Africa.
“About five minutes ago only 182 Nigerians were allowed to board the flight; the rest are being barred by South Africa Immigration. They are frustrating the Nigerian High Commission, taking the passengers away. They want to frustrate the airline and the Nigerian government. The aircraft has been on, burning fuel since 4:00 am. They are not happy that Nigeria is evacuating its citizens. They don’t want the world to know that a Nigerian airline and Nigerian government is evacuating them.
“Our High Commission is having tough time with South African government. They are stopping and arresting Nigerians, saying they should explain how they came into the country,” the official said.