Last Sunday’s unfortunate plane crash, which claimed the lives of 153 passengers at Iju-Ishaga, Lagos could have been avoided if the management of Dana Airlines had taken seriously the complaint the Akwa Ibom state government lodged with it about the unserviceable condition of the ill-fated plane, Governor Godswill Akpabio has said.
Mr. Akpabio, who spoke with reporters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Sunday, said when his government received complaints from passengers from Akwa Ibom about a faulty aircraft in the airline’s fleet, he warned the airline’s management of the dire consequence of continuing to use it.
“When I received complaints from most Dana Air users in my state complaining of what people may call near misses or crashes, like non-operational landing gear and all sorts of problems, I immediately intimated the management of the airline about it,” the governor told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
“We knew that most of the planes on their airline’s fleet were getting faulty or rusty, so, we were very concerned as a state government. I told the management to stop experimenting with the lives of Nigerians. I warned the management to recall what happened to ADC Airlines
“I reminded them that this was the way ADC Airlines started and all of a sudden, they were putting faulty aircrafts in the air. At the end, so many lives were lost and unfortunately, you cannot replace lives,’’ the governor said.
The warning to Dana Airlines, he said, was to ensure adequate maintenance of the affected aircraft by the management, or suspension of its flight to enable a thorough check of the aircraft in its fleet.
“But, unfortunately, that is all in the past now. The warning probably was not heeded by the management of Dana and a situation has already occurred. May the souls of those who died in the unfortunate crash rest in perfect peace. I pray that we will use the outcome of the investigation to better the aviation industry,’’ Mr. Akpabio said.
The governor called on government to ensure proper monitoring of airlines operating in the country to ensure that they were airworthy, adding that the Federal Government should think of how the country would have a befitting national carrier that would be the first choice for air travellers.
“A country with over 160 million people without a national carrier is unthinkable, because almost half of the population have no access to airplanes. It is because of the gap that people are trying to fill as a result of the absence of a national carrier that the country is having mushroom airlines coming on board.
“I think it is something the government must sit down and think about again, because the situation now is urgent. We must not even delay it,’’ he said.
Noting that the aviation and transport sectors are part of social services, which all level of governments should not ignore, the governor said the public would continue to be extorted and endangered if urgent actions are not taken.
“It took the American, British and other governments bailing out private companies for them to survive. Like the General Motors in America, the government had to bail it out to survive. Governments all over the world are going back into private businesses to ensure the businesses succeed. It is clear that governments cannot ignore some services that have social service connotation,’’ he said.
The governor, who said the Akwa Ibom International Airport, Uyo, would be completed later in 2012, said the state government is already looking for reputable companies outside Nigeria that would take over the maintenance hangar at the airport.
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