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Opinions of Monday, 21 November 2022

Columnist: Dr. Robert B. M. Sogbadji

My predicament with Royal Air Maroc

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The return From COP27 through Casablanca was terrible as I’m still here not sure if my promised departure day will be fulfilled.

My flight from Cairo (AT271) to Casablanca was delayed for two hours. Upon arrival in Casablanca, the Accra-bound flight had left. I found a flight itinerary in AirFrance which could get me to Accra the same day but later in the day, I was told the cost would have to be borne by me.

The Air Maroc Transit desk attendants had a discussion about my passport, upon realizing that it was an ECOWAS passport and from sub-Saharan Africa, they immediately printed me a ticket which was to depart in two days. (I know this because they requested my passport before taking a decision and also unknown to them, I could understand the language they spoke-French).

This meant I only get to arrive in Accra on Sunday 20th November, instead of Friday 18th November. Needless to say, I was checked into fly Hotel by Oasis Lounge of Air Maroc, a hotel with cubicles as rooms. It is such an uncomfortable space to stay for two days and two nights. There are two common bathrooms and toilets to be shared with 49 other occupants.

I had requested earlier to be checked into another hotel which could come with a bit of comfort and privacy but that was declined because I needed a visa to enable me to get out of the airport. I couldn't have access to my luggage as same valid visa issue was applied. For two days and two nights, I wouldn't have any means of freshening up. I had to pay for my dinner on the first night since the hotel said it was past time to issue a dinner voucher.

In my frustration, I went back to the Oasis Lounge counter to reason with the attendant to secure a flight to Ghana through Air France. He asked me to sit and wait whiles he checked from the transit office. After three hours of waiting, he never returned till a new attendant reported at the counter to start the morning shift.

She told me the male staff I spoke to had closed and gone home. "For a moment I thought to myself, what will cause any human being to treat a fellow human being with such little or no respect." I had not slept the whole night and was fatigued.

The morning shift staff directed me to Service Transit Office still in pursuit of either the next available flight which was through AirFrance or at least access to my luggage, but the officer refused. I tried to register my frustration by dropping my back pack on the floor.

The staff of the transit office rushed from his desk to intimidate me and started issuing threats, standing with his forehead millimetres away from mine, questioning why I dropped my bag.

He emphasised I had no right to be frustrated. I was dragged out from the office to a counter (nothing short of a criminal being hauled by an officer) and I was warned not to return to the office.

I have never been this traumatised in my entire life.

So, I resulted to serve my "AirMaroc prison sentence" without seeking any way out, with the fear that it might be nasty.

My little observations: the staff were very impolite to especially dark-skinned people. They treated us with no respect no matter how polite and humble you came across. Nothing you say mattered once you are black.

I've had to depend on one sandwich and fizzy drink for breakfast, lunch, and supper. May I hasten to add that none of these meals served was and is accompanied with drinking water. You drink water at your own cost. The airport has no other healthy food alternatives even if you choose to spend from your pocket.

For two days now, I’ve not been able to take my medication, attend to my personal hygiene of any form, or changed clothes.

Both staff and service of Royal AirMaroc have treated me badly and with utmost disrespect and I can only conclude it's a result of my skin colour and the passport I possess.

I can never recommend Royal Air Maroc to anyone. You book that flight at your own peril, if the old aircraft doesn’t kill you, the management will. I survived, you may not.