Global travel management company Wings Travel Management has issued a travel warning for all travelers to Nigeria, prompted by the current fuel shortage crisis. While it has been reported that fuel producers and the Nigerian government have come to an agreement, and that fuel is in the beginning stages of distribution, Sonja Hamman, Director, Strategic Client Management – Oil & Gas for Wings Travel Management states that business travel arrangements may be impacted for the coming week.
“International carriers are operating for the moment, with some airlines (Emirates and SAA) choosing to refuel in alternate locations such as Accra in nearby Ghana,” explains Hamman. “Although these flights are operational, delayed arrival times can be expected as a result of refuelling in alternate locations.”
“Domestic carriers, Arik and Aero Contractors, have been the most affected by the fuel shortage, with both cancelling a large number of flights. There has been little to no advance warning of which flights are cancelled, resulting in huge inconvenience to travellers. Wings is advising our clients to delay all non-essential travel, if at all possible.”
“In cases where travel to, or within, Nigeria is absolutely essential, travellers must be prepared to accommodate last-minute changes or delays to their travel schedules. Travellers need to ensure that they have up-to-the-minute information about the current conditions at their destination, and are encouraged to reach out to their Wings Travel Management consultants and account managers for assistance. We are monitoring the situation through our Lagos office, which is collecting on-the-ground intelligence, and we are working closely with our clients as this situation unfolds.”
While air travel has become inconsistent, road travel is proving even more of a challenge and business travellers who need to commute have to make their arrangements well in advance to ensure that they are not left stranded. Leaving alternative arrangements to the last minute is not an option due to the possibility of interrupted phone connectivity. The effect of the fuel crisis is immediately visible in major centres such as Lagos and Abuja, where traffic volumes have dipped sharply.
“The fuel shortage is more far reaching for day-to-day Nigerian life,” says Hamman. “It is extremely difficult to find petrol and diesel for cars, and the cost of public transport is increasing – pushing the price out of reach for commuters. This means that employees cannot travel to work, resulting in offices, shops and banks needing to close early, or operate skeleton services.”
Concludes Hamman, “The latest media reports indicate that government and the wholesalers have come to an agreement, but how quickly fuel supply will be normalised remains uncertain. In addition, the cost of business travel may also be significantly impacted by the shortage for the foreseeable future.”
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