Last Sunday’s plane crash at the Iju – Ishaga area of Lagos State has uncovered many inadequacies and criminal neglect in air operation in the country.
The McDonell Douglas MC83 aircraft was said to have been described as unfit for flying as a result of technical problems it suffered in the last four weeks. In addition to this, the aircraft registered as SN/RAM was to fly without passengers to Lagos from a state in South-south before being diverted to Abuja to carry Lagos-bound passengers.
Disclosures regarding the technical deficiency of the 22-year old aircraft flown to Nigeria from Alaska in USA, were rife – and sickening.
These disclosures confirm Governor Godswill Akpabio’s reported warning to the same DANA pilot when his plane landed in Calabar airport. His observation of the malfunctioning of the aircraft shames the so-called regulatory bodies in the airline industry.
A catalogue of past air tragedies on Nigeria’s air space leaves a sour taste in the month. For instance, there was the crash of SAS Airline BACI-II 500 on May 4, 2002 in Kano. About 148 persons died.
On December 10,2005 a Sosoliso Airline DC-9 crashed in Port Harcourt, killing 103 people, most of who were students returning home for that year’s Christmas/New year holidays; a year later, October 29, 2006, ADC Airline Boeing 737 also crashed, claiming the life of the Sultan of Sokoto who was on board along with others.
Assurances by the Federal Government of safety of air travels have never yielded the desired results, instead plane crashes continue as a result of either neglect of the authorities or persistence of Airline operators to fly rickety planes.
Calls for thorough investigation of last Sunday’s DANA tragedy should be heeded, and promptly too, and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should be overhauled to make room for fresh minds in the industry who can inject sanity therein.
We support the Federal Government’s first step in withdrawing the operating licence of DANA Airline. Other airlines should be routinely visited inorder to avert a re-occurrence of further disaster. Our airspace should not be another avenue of mass killing of innocent people.
Claims and counter-claims by airport and airline authorities would not help matters. Nigeria should not be a dumping ground for discarded aircraft from abroad.