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Nigerian travellers could be stranded due to passport shortages, NIS says

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Nigerian travellers, inbound and abroad, are facing challenges amidst the re-escalating pandemic, bureaucracy hiccup, and financial crisis.

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) blamed an ongoing shortage of international passports in its foreign missions to last year’s lockdown due to the pandemic, causing more than 1,000 Nigerians are currently stranded abroad as a result of expired travel documents.

“We are not unaware of the problems Nigerians living in different parts of the world are going through at the moment over their expired international passports,” said the public relations officer of NIS, Amos Okpu.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has officially launched an enhanced e-Passport at the Nigerian High Commission in London, United Kingdom, to counter the issue.

“These challenges have persisted for too long and a lot of people have become cynical while others have taken them as normal and then roll with it,” said the minister. “We are going to solve all the problems associated with passport administration and we are already succeeding,” the minister declared.

On the other hand, dollar shortage in the country continues to hit the air travel industry harder as foreign airlines have stopped selling tickets to and from Nigeria – a move known as SOTO, meaning Sold Out, Ticketed Out.

“IATA confirmed to us that we (foreign airlines) are putting pressure on the Nigerian economy when we sell in naira tickets that are meant to be sold in dollars,” said an anonymous source from British Airways regarding the decision.

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