The planned airlift of Nigerians in South Africa scheduled for Friday, September 6, has been delayed till next Monday or Tuesday.
The operating airline, Air Peace, confirmed this after discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa.
The Guardian learnt that the shift in date is due to the need to get valid travel documents for the already pencilled passengers.
It was gathered that many of the intending passengers did not have travel documents and many possess expired passports.
“Air Peace has prepared its aircraft, Boeing 777, for the flight since Tuesday, but the Nigerian High Commission needed time to register the Nigerians billed to travel. They are already doing that in Johannesburg and Pretoria,” an airline source said.
The Nigerian government on Wednesday said it will begin the evacuation of Nigerians willing to leave the country over the persistent xenophobic attack in South Africa.
Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed that Air Peace will commence the evacuation exercise on Friday.
According to him, the development is made possible by the Proprietor of Air Peace Airlines, Chief Allen Onyema, who has volunteered to send an aircraft each daily from Friday, to evacuate Nigerians who may wish to return to Nigeria, free of charge.
The government, therefore, urged Nigerians who have relations in South Africa to inform them of the development.
“Interested Nigerians are therefore advised to liaise with the High Commission of Nigeria in Pretoria and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg for further necessary arrangement”, the Nigerian government stated.
Nigeria’s decision to airlift its citizens living in South Africa came days after it said it was going to take “definitive measures” on the xenophobic attacks in the country.