Lagos - Shop owners at the MMA2 wing of the domestic airport in Lagos have condemned the indiscriminate arrest of their vendors over alleged touting at the airport.
The shop owners told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday that their landlord - Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd – was limiting their operations in spite of the huge rents.
Mrs Jennifer Uwala, a manager with Dudu Store at the airport’s food court, alleged that Bi-Courtney had introduced some rigid laws that were hampering their businesses.
“With the current state of the economy and low passenger turn out, it’s inevitable for us to solicit for customers so as to make something at the end of the day,” she said.
Mr Bisi Olaniyan, another food vendor, urged the airport management to stop arresting vendors over alleged touting at MMA2.
According to the shop owner, the huge amount being paid as rent to Bi-Courtney and the low passenger traffic warrant aggressive marketing strategy.
“They should stop arresting us and allow us to operate so we can break even; we pay several millions as rents yearly. So, soliciting for passengers’ patronage is not harassment.
“This has been the practice before and all of a sudden the management clamped down on us for doing what we have been doing since we came here,” he said.
Olaniyan, managing director of Tru Smoothies, also accused Bi-Courtney of frustrating activities of shop owners at MMA2.
“If the situation is not addressed immediately, we will take them to court because it’s frustrating,” he said.
Mr Stephen Omoldle-Ajulo, Public Relations Officer, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services, however, told NAN that the incidence of touting had increased amongst vendors within the airport premises.
“Due to low passenger traffic, some vendors have resulted to touting and canvassing passengers to their stalls, which is against the policy of the airport, since MMA2 is privately managed,” he said.
Omoldle-Ajulo confirmed that four vendors were arrested on Monday for contravening this policy.
“We have had numerous complaints from passengers about being harassed by vendors.
“We don’t allow any form of soliciting, loitering or unlicensed currency exchange at MMA2 and we will continue to arrest any defaulter,” he said.
Omoldle-Ajulo expressed optimism that business would pick up soon and urged the vendors to exercise patience.