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airport blackout: luggage delivery unplugged


Minnie is waiting: no electricity no luggage
Minnie is waiting: no electricity no luggage
It is Wednesday night at Muritala Muhammad International Airport, around 8pm. It is the time of arrival of three flights from Europe. The weather is fair, cool actually, with 25 degree Celsius. Landing, alighting the aircraft, going through vaccination check and then queuing up for immigration goes relatively smoothly. Interestingly, the luggage delivery area is in the dark, as one can see from the immigration area which is separated from the luggage area by a two-meter high wall only.
Slowly but surely the area of luggage delivery fills up in the dark, only lit up by the nearby immigration area and a battery-powered Air France sign set-up above one of the delivery belts.
Passengers are waiting and start commenting on the possible consequences of the delivery area black-out:
- the belt is not powered so it can't circulate luggages so that passengers can pick them up
- even if the luggages were brought on carriages, no-one would see well enough to locate their own.
- some hints that it could be an arranged accident so that luggages can be cosily pilfered in the dark.
- someone suggests that luggages should be brought out in the light to the arrival hall and an agent would call the name of the luggage owner for him to collect it like in the old days
- another one says nothing will happen until "NEPA" (name of the electricity company in Nigeria but referring by extension to electricity itself) is fixed
a puzzled airline staff: what shall I do with those 500 + shouting machines?
a puzzled airline staff: what shall I do with those 500 + shouting machines?
Airline staff are being progressively surrounded by an ever louder crowd, essentially male, who have an opinion about the best way to complain and possibly solve the issue.
There is a cordon around the Airline staff with which many men want to quarrel. " Excuse me, I want to join that fight" says with a smirk a tall and chubby guy elbowing his way toward the cordon which he opens to be able to reach the airline staff.
"they should bring out luggages one by one and call passengers by their names" says another.
"this is Nigeria for us. Nigeria will never change" hints a frequent traveler in his sixties
" they must have a plan" comments a fourth one.
where everyone is discussing his own plan
where everyone is discussing his own plan
It is a new experience to be waiting in the dark, sweating brotherly with all your neighbours, while several hundreds of people are trying to offer their solution to whomever wants to listen - but actually very few listen to others. The game is to shout louder than your neighbour so that your solution has a chance to penetrate in others' ears. What matters is venting your frustration, but in the end after 10 minutes the peak of adrenaline of a man has been reached and he calms down while another is taking over.
The place is a mess. The airline staff would struggle to be heard announcing names of luggage owners. The Air France staff seems however open to experiment in that direction. They make an unconvincing attempt to make people silent. THAT proves impossible obviously because so many egos have not yet had a chance to bring up their point! And no-one can hear what the airline staff says anyway.
it's hot in here
it's hot in here
Someone reiterates that there is no other solution than to wait for the electricity to come back.
In the end, Nigerians are used to power-cuts. Everyone is affected in a way or another so it does not seem outlandish that power could be missing for a few hours in a part of the International Airport of Lagos.
"shall we come back tomorrow to pick our luggage? Can we leave now and come back tomorrow, I don't want to spend the night here!" asks one man to the airline staff to threaten them of being responsible of all luggages that could disappear.
Of course it is telling that all customers harass the airline staff who have nothing to do with the power cut.
hallelujah power is back!
hallelujah power is back!
Then a few minutes before 10PM, the lights pop-up. Everyone is surprised, but the surprise immediately translates into jumps of joy and applause, a roar of exultation is filling up the area. God is probably thanked heavily for what he has done too.
Now finally the luggages are coming on the conveyor belt. No need to spend the night! All is well!

Apparently some construction work damaged the power of that area and it took a while to figure out what it was and repair it.

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