As Nigerians mourn the souls that lost their lives in the Sunday June 3, 2012 Dana flight 99j9 crash, with all the 153 souls on board and five persons in the buildings into which the aircraft crashed in Lagos, BIODUN AKOMOLAFE reports that many Nigerians have vowed to keep flying as their means of transport both within and outside the country.
After about five years of zero accident of commercial scheduled flights in the country, Nigerian airlines, last week, witnessed two crashes within 24 hours, a situation that would have greatly disturbed air passengers.
But information, which has emerged from Nigerian Compass investigation, revealed that many Nigerian air passengers, who expressed their reservations about flying domestic airlines, believed it was the safest, fastest and cheapest means of transportation known to humanity, vowing to continue flying no matter the situation.
While many of the regular air passengers and other potential passengers believed that air crash like any other accident could happen, no matter what was put in place, claiming that they were not deterred by the recent crash of the Dana Abuja- Lagos flight.
According to them, they said that with or without air crash human beings were bound to die at the appointed time.
A water engineer with a multinational company, which has many branches spread across the country, Mr. Bolu Onasanya, said he would continue to fly for the reasons people fly, especially when considered the fatalities recorded between road and air accident.
While stating that road accidents had higher ratio, he said that that many people got to know about air crashes because the industry was well regulated and allowed for free flow of information.
The season engineer, who said he had gained more air mileage than road since he began working as an engineer, moving around the country to attend to the needs of his employers, added: “It is just sad that Nigeria has witnessed this very sad situation at this time point in time. It was also unfortunate that this accident happened at a time Nigeria is experiencing a rapid growth in its middle class.
“Most of the members of the middle class are taking to air travel and this has been helping the economy. You need to come to airports across the country everyday and see the number of Nigerians traveling by air.
“The number is becoming impressive. If we say we would not travel by air because of one single crash in many years, then shall we say everybody should stay indoor when an aircraft flies over our houses? No, what we need to do is to keep stepping up the regulatory processes.
“We need to be more prayerful as an individual and as a nation against air crashes. If you look at the number of persons dying on the road or auto accidents, not only in motor or car accidents but those that are involved bicycles, motorcycles and even pedestrians, you would realise that road accidents claim lives than air. Yet everybody still travel by road, either on long or short distance.”
Another Nigerian, who has also vowed to keep flying, is Mr. Femi Adedayo, a budding politician from Ondo State.
Adedayo, who claimed he has his reservations for some of the local airlines because he was not too sure of their capabilities to successfully run an airline or any business without an attempt at cutting corner, said he would want all the airlines to maintain high standard of discipline particularly on technical issues.
He said he would always prefer to travel by air on international routes, which he claimed, are safer.
He reasoned: “I would prefer air travel to any other means of traveling. This is because it is safer and has speed. Though I have my reservation about Nigerian airline operators, I would still continue to fly. Many of them are in the business just to make money and boost their personal egos. I don’t know why they can’t come together to form one or two very strong airlines? With this they would have access to many advantages than all these nonsense they are engaging in.”
Alhaji Mauzu Abubarka Daji, is a trader, claimed he traveled regularly between the Northern and Southern parts of the country where he did his transactions, stating he had lost at least two close friends in air crashes in the last twenty years but had lost count of the number of close relations he had lost to road accidents and armed robbery within the same period of time.
Daji reasoned that most road accidents were in total loss as no compensation in any form would be paid but the families of those he claimed died in the two air crashes were compensated and returned to normal life thereafter.
He said: “Anyhow, a man dies is by the will of Allah. Nobody dies without Allah knowing about it. So, either you enter aircraft or ride your horse, one day you would die. In the last 20 years I have lost two persons who were very close to me in air crash.
“But how many people do I remember have died in motor accidents and killed by armed robbers? The families of those who died in the air crashes were compensated by the airlines. Though I don’t know how much, but those who died in motor accidents or killed by armed robbers, nothing happened.
“Police just told us that they would investigate and up till now nothing has come out and all their monies are gone. As for me, I travel from north to Lagos and Port Harcourt to buy things which I sell in the north every month and so I should be traveling by road? It is not possible,” he stressed.
Nigerians from all walks of life have, however, called on the Federal government and concerned aviation agencies to carry out thorough investigations to unravel both the immediate and remote causes of the crash so as to prevent future occurrence.
Meanwhile Dana airline in a statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer Jacky Hathiramani, said that the ill fated aircraft was properly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedules and NCAA directives.
“The aircraft involved in the accident, a Boeing MD83 (Registration Number 5N-RAM), was maintained correctly and fully in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedule and directives from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
“It had its last 400-hourly check (A-Check) on May 30, 2012. The statutory annual maintenance (C-Check) was not due until September 2012. The Certificate of Airworthiness issued by the NCCA after its last C-Check was completely valid as at the time of the accident.
“We adhere strictly to the maintenance schedule of all our aircraft as prescribed by the manufacturers, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Dana Air has a maintenance agreement with MyTechnic - an international, world-class aviation maintenance organisation (MRO) which is located at our Lagos base. It performs and supervises all local maintenance tasks including the daily servicing and release of our aircraft for operations. Our heavy scheduled maintenance checks (i.e. C-checks) are done by leading MRO companies overseas,” the company added.
The Director General of Nigerian Civil aviation Authority,(NCAA) Dr. Harold Demuren, in his word during his visit to the scene of the Dana crash in Iju - Ishaga, said: “As long as airplanes fly human beings must continue to be on board them and fly in the airspace. This crash is an unfortunate one. we shall leave no stone unturned to unravel the cause of this crash. We shall at the same time continue to work harder round the clock to ensure that this type of accident is prevented and our airspace becomes safer for air travels. We have done it in the last six years and we shall continue to do it.”