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153 deaths and counting

| June 6, 2012 More

Rescue workers search for bodies at the site of the Dana plane crash in Lagos

•We need a urgent inquest into not only Dana management but also the NCAA


For Nigerians, it was yet another call to national mourning when Sunday June 3, Dana Air Flight 0092 crashed into a residential building at the Iju area of Lagos, killing about 153 persons, including crew members on board. Coming only a few hours after suicide bombers killed 15 people and injured 42 others in two churches in Bauchi, Bauchi State, the day has been rightly described as ‘black Sunday’. 

The plane, which took off for Lagos from Abuja was said to have declared an emergency with the Lagos Control Tower at 11 nautical miles to the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos. We still dont knowhow many died on the street where the plane crashed into.

The crash was a sad reminder of the sad era when planes dropped from the skies as if the country was under some spell. We recall the crash of EAS Airlines’ BAC 1-11-500 on May 4, 2002 in a poor, densely populated area of the ancient city of Kano. About 148 persons died in the crash, including 72 on the ground. 

Then on December 10, 2005 a Sosoliso Airlines DC-9 crashed in Port Harcourt, killing all 103 persons, mostly students coming home for the Christmas/New Year holidays.  And on October 29, 2006, ADC Airline Boeing 737 carrying about 104 persons crashed during a rainstorm, minutes after take-off from the Abuja Airport. Although there were six survivors, the Sultan of Sokoto who was among the passengers died in the incident. 

Apart from these fatal crashes, there were other near mishaps, including that of Air France A330 on July 6, 2005, in Port Harcourt; among others. We have had planes overrun runways, run into cows on the tarmacs due to lack of a basic facility as perimeter fence. Indeed, the frequency of these mishaps became an embarrassment to Nigerians and the President Olusegun Obasanjo government which, at some point, almost became a specialist in graveside orations. Nigerians called for concerted actions to halt the trend, rather than empty promises to investigate the crashes, and punish culprits. 

We cannot afford to return to that era where air travellers in the country would be travelling with their hearts in their mouths.  And we need more than the president’s declaration of mourning in honour of the dead. We also need more than his assurances to air travellers that every possible effort would be made to ensure that we learn the right lessons from the sad incident.  We have heard that time and again from his predecessors. Indeed, such statements coming from Nigerian leaders have almost become a cliché. 

We have also seen intervention funds in the sector (as in most other sectors) disappearing into thin air without consequences.  

There is much to lament over this crash. Is it true the plane had terrible technical defects before it was brought to Nigeria? Moreover, Governor Godswill Akpabio said he warned the managing director of Dana Air over its negligence, following the averted disaster involving an aircraft en-route Lagos from Uyo.

We have to focus more on regulating  air operations. Apparently many  aircraft flying our airspace are not worthy. The Sunday crash made mincemeat of the aviation authorities’ celebration of five years accident-free in the sector. It was perhaps more of an act of Providence than any measures put in place.

We call for a swift and thorough inquest into the Dana tragedy as well as a comprehensive technical investigation into the activities of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and its adherence to standards, as well as possible culpability of the Dana Air management’s neglect and incompetence. Punishment and sanctions should be unsparing. Lives are too important to be left in the hands of airline managers alone.   


Category: Bauchi State News

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