by Mark Amaza and Ikemesit Effiong
How could we forget the Anyene family, who came from the US, and lost nine of its members – almost 2 generations – as they were enroute Lagos for a wedding of a relative. Or the father and daughter who lived together, loved together, flew together and ultimately perished – together.
Exactly a year ago, the five and a half year period of bliss in which there was no mishap involving a commercial airliner in Nigeria came to a tragic end with the crash of the Dana Flight 992, killing 153 passengers and crew on board.
The plane which had departed Abuja for Lagos had its journey prematurely ended while attempting to land when it crashed into the Iju-Ishaga neighborhood on the outskirts of Lagos, killing 10 people on the ground as well.
That accident plunged the nation into mourning, especially as the passenger manifest was later released and in our highly interconnected world, almost all of us knew someone who knew someone on the ill-fated flight.
How could we forget the Anyene family, who came from the US, and lost nine of its members – almost 2 generations – as they were enroute Lagos for a wedding of a relative. Or the father and daughter who lived together, loved together, flew together and ultimately perished – together. Or Levi Ajuonuma. Everyone on the flight practically had a story.
Or what of those on the ground, many of whom had never flown, yet became victims? I remember the sad story of the (there is a family, find their name) kids, who were saved only because their father had sent them on an errand, only for them to return and find their house in ruins.
Expectedly, the operating airline, Dana Air, had its license suspended and panels were set up to investigate the crash. The National Assembly set up a joint committee of its Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Aviation to investigate.
Now, one year later, what has changed?
Months of investigations by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation resulted in a resolution by first, the House of Representatives on 17th January, 2013, and then the Senate on 29th January 2013, asking that the operating license of Dana Air be revoked, and that the then Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren be removed.
The Dana Air operating license was restored on March 18, 2013.
However, Dr Demuren was relieved of his job on March 12, 2013 for his “unsatisfactory response” to the numerous concerns of stakeholders in the aviation sector? A replacement has yet to be named.
Subsequently, a report from people familiar with the investigation in both Nigeria and the United States blamed human error for the crash, specifically the inability of the pilots to turn on the fuel pumps which led to the failure of the two engines and the eventual crash.
Curiously enough, the preliminary report was released while the investigation was ongoing and was in an article published in The Wall Street Journal on February 11.
More curiously was the fact that two months before the Wall Street Journal published the report, the Accident Investigation Bureau had said that the cause of the crash might never be known as the flight recorder, the famed black box had been destroyed by the fire that raged for nearly a day after the crash.
Till date, the report of the AIB is still being awaited.
Also, there is the issue of the families of the victims being compensated by the airline as per the company’s travel insurance agreement. So far, only 11 families have received compensation out of a total of about 85 families. It is not clear if the families of the victims who perished on the ground have received any compensation.
Lastly, the question as to whether Nigeria’s skies are safer after the Dana air crash is really a matter of speculation, as much has not changed in terms of laws, policies or regulations in the aviation industry as a result of the crash.
Not only is the crucial report of the investigation into the cause of the crash still uncompleted, there is still no new Director-General for the NCAA.
We continue to pray that the families of the victims find solace and comfort and that Nigeria is spared the loss of more souls through the use of aviation, and indeed all forms of transport in the country.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.