Spain passengers on Vueling jet delay migrant deportation

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  • As ECN tasks electricity investors, consumers on low but cost reflective tariff

A group of passengers could face hefty fines after delaying a Vueling flight in Barcelona out of sympathy with a Senegalese migrant on board.

The Senegalese man, in handcuffs, was eventually deported to Dakar on the flight. The jet took off after police had come on board to stop the protest.

The 11 protesters could be fined up to €225,000 (£197,000; $258,000) each for endangering flight safety.

The protest delayed both that flight and the return flight from Dakar.

Spanish media report that the Barcelona-Dakar flight was delayed by two-and-a-half hours at El Prat airport on Saturday, after all the passengers had been ordered off the plane.

When they boarded again, 11 passengers – identified by police as protesters – were not allowed through.

A Spanish journalist, Anna Palou, tweeted a video clip showing the protest on the budget airline jet.

The clip showed several passengers blocking the aisle and bore the message in Catalan: “We have succeeded! Flight of deportation stopped. Now the authorities are coming to take the person away! Solidarity is our best weapon!”

The BBC has approached Vueling for comment on the incident. Witnesses quoted by Spanish media said the sympathy protest started on the plane when the Senegalese man, escorted by two border guards, complained loudly about being deported.

Lacking any work or residence permit, he had been refused entry to Spain, the Efe news agency reported.

The delay meant that the return flight from Dakar had to be postponed to Sunday, forcing Vueling to pay for the overnight accommodation of 176 passengers.

The incident prompted anti-deportation activists to rally at Seville airport on Sunday. The activists, from the group Caravana Abriendo Fronteras (Open Borders Caravan), staged a noisy protest in the airport terminal.

The numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in Spain from Africa this year have increased compared with the same period (January-July) last year.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says 6,973 had arrived in Spain by sea as of 11 July, compared with 2,476 in the first half of last year.

However, far more took the Central Mediterranean route to Italy.

In the meantime, Prof. Jidere Bala, the Director-General of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), has advised investors in power sector to maintain good relationship with consumers through low but cost reflective tariff regime.

Bala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that electricity was a service and consumers must have good relationship with the suppliers.

The Director-General said that Generating Companies (GENCOs) and Distribution Companies (DISCOs) were not philanthropists and so must make profits.

“The suppliers need a little profit, the consumers must also agree with suppliers.

“Government, as regulator, should also be there to regulate the duo.

“They have to source for the service they are giving consumers, so we should reach compromise and not fight over tariff,” he said.

Bala urged Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to come out with strong regulatory framework because consumers should enjoy what they paid for.

He advised consumers to exercise patience as finance was the major challenge facing the operators.

“It has been almost four years of privatisation of the sector now; it is not easy to raise money to finance major projects.

“We should still be patient with the market situation; consumers and suppliers should understand one another.

“We must keep on dialoguing with one another to find ways out of these challenges.

“Dialogue should always be the solution to the problem of tariff hike,” he said.

The GENCOs, on July 13, said that the Federal Government must increase electricity tariff.

Ismaila Funtua, the Vice Chairman, Mainstream Energy Solution, made the suggestion while talking with the State House correspondents on the sidelines of the Quarterly Presidential Business Forum held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Managing Director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Mr Joseph Ugbo, on July 14, threw his weight behind the calls by the generating companies for a hike in electricity tariff.

Ugbo made his position known in an interview with journalists on July 14 when the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo visited N-Power Response Centre located in the NDPHC Building in Abuja.

Additional report from BBC

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