Scores of air passengers were yesterday stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) as unions at the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) embarked on an indefinite strike.
The workers, who spoke to our correspondent, said the strike was to press home their demand for the implementation of the salary structure approved by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.
The unions are the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
The situation had compelled senior management staff of NAMA to take charge of the control towers.
Armed policemen were also stationed at the entrance of NAMA headquarters, to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
A union member, who pleaded anonymity, said there were no international flights going out or coming into the country because of the strike.
"Those ones coming in were diverted to Niger Republic Airspace, causing the country to lose revenue.
"As at 9:00 a.m., only eight domestic airlines had been air borne, as against the 20 we should have recorded on a normal day," the source said .
Some passengers urged NAMA management and the unions to resolve the crisis without delay.
An Abuja-bound passenger, Mr Deji Elumoye, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, urged the unions and NAMA management to resolve their differences by fulfilling the agreements they both reached.
Mrs Biola Olayiwola, another passengers travelling to Abuja, also called for closer collaboration between the NAMA management and the unions because they both needed themselves for the survival of the sector.
The unions in a statement signed by Messrs Olayinka Abioye, Abdulkareem Motajo and Aba Ocheme, their acting secretary-generals, described the strike as a "successful one" and warned the flying passengers' not to fly.
They also warned the flying public not to endanger their lives by flying, adding that it was NAMA's management staffs that were drafted to take charge of the control towers and serving as air traffic controllers (ATCS). Mr Supo Atobatele, General Manager, Public Affairs, NAMA, said that the agency's senior management staff had been drafted to the control towers.
"All NAMA personnel are technically sound to do the jobs they are trained and employed to do," he said.