The federal government has approved the resumption of domestic flights in the country and has said a hike in flight fare is inevitable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to the Minister of Aviation’s declaration a week ago that there would be no fare increase.
This is as government has also lifted the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made these known while responding to a question during the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja
Mustapha said those in the aviation sector are in business for profit, explaining that with the protocol on social distancing, airlines will be expected to fly fewer number of passengers.
He noted that operators will have to share the cost in view of present situation with their passengers.
National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, had earlier announced domestic flight operations is now allowed to open in Nigeria after a satisfactory assessment of the industry’s readiness for restart.
Dr. Aliyu, said domestic operations are allowed to open as soon as practicable but in line with existing international and local guidelines on COVID-19.
He emphasized that passengers must arrive the airport 3 hours before flights to observe all the health protocols put in place by the airport authority.
“You must observe social distance, wear a face masks, wash your hands, sanitize it, your luggage must be disinfected, temperature taking and so on.”
On the lift of the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed that movement was possible provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, disclosed that the latest developments were contained in the task force’s fifth interim report which was submitted to the President, earlier in the day.
Mustapha said, “I am pleased to inform you that Mr. President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.
“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect: “Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator; Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by states, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resumes in-person in preparation for examinations; Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;
“Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities, “he said.
The government also lifted the ban on interstate travels. Interstate travels can, however, only be done outside curfew hours with effect from July 1 2020.
Mr. Olayinka Onikijipa, the Chairman, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in Kwara, has applauded the Federal Government for lifting the ban on interstate movement.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the federal government on Monday announced the lifting of ban on interstate movement from July 1.
Onikijipa told NAN that the development was a welcome decision and that the union had put in place guidelines to ensure that both drivers and passengers do not disobey government directives on preventing the spread of COVID-19.
He appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for considering the suffering of the commercial transporters.
“We are very happy about the development. This marks the end of hunger caused by the pandemic.
“We appreciate our president and the Federal Government for lifting the ban and for all they are doing to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have put up our own sets of guidelines in accordance with the government’s directives, and we are going to ensure it is adhered to.
“We have made arrangements for infrared thermometers to be used at all our parks, so that passenger temperatures can be checked before they board any of our vehicles.
“We have also told all our members to have alcohol based hand sanitisers in their cars and all passengers and drivers must make use of nose masks.
“We are also going to ensure physical and social distancing in our vehicles and parks,” he said.
Onikijipa therefore urged the public and passengers to cooperate with the union by adhering strictly to these guidelines when boarding commercial vehicles at the parks as it was for the protection of everyone.