Kathleen Ndongmo: Dana Air – Tragedy, trial and error (YNaija FrontPage)

Dear Ms. Oduah: a well-informed citizen is a well-protected one.  It is not enough to promise that you will keep on “enhancing and enhancing and enhancing”.  Tell us what happened.

A couple of months ago, I spilled coffee down the front of my pristine white shirt – right at the beginning of a work day.  In that same month, a plane carrying over 150 people crashed in a residential neighbourhood in Lagos – killing everyone on board and a further several dozen people on the ground.

Now, only one of these incidents can be described as a mishap.  And if you are Dana Air, you will pick the wrong one.  Because, that is how they are describing the very tragic loss of nearly 160 lives on their website.  To them, it was simply, a mishap.  If you lost your loved one to the tragedy and now have to go through the arduous aftermath of this horrific mess, you can also call 0700 FLYDANA.  That is the number Dana Air chose.  0700 FLYDANA.  God forbid a marketing opportunity will go unexploited.

This week, the coroner’s inquest into the June third air crash was suspended because “the proceeding contravenes Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act No. 6 of 2006”.  Well, thank goodness for lawyers.  But if the hasty abortion of proceedings brought on by one Civil Aviation Round Table Initiative Limited independent N.G.O with no constitutional right doesn’t terrify every Nigerian (and non-Nigerian) who’s ever flown a local airline, then the fact that it took the federal government just three months to lift the suspension on Dana Air’s operating license certainly should send more than shivers down anyone’s spine.

Think about it. Three months!? 95 days.  That is only 0.6 days for each person who perished. Stop and think about it yet again.

I guess we’re just supposed to take the very Special Adviser to the Aviation Minister, Joe Obi’s word for it when he says the government is satisfied with the airline’s air-worthiness after “a rigorous technical, operational and financial audit”.  You, Mr Obi, and the government may be satisfied; but we, the governed, still have a few questions.  Why has a cause still not been publically identified? Why has no culprit been named?  Why has there been no nationwide audit of similar aircraft? Can you make the report of that “rigorous technical, operational and financial audit public sir? Will there be an introduction of new measures to ensure this never happens again? How will that happen? On what basis? We can hear the echo of our questions.

All we have so far are a series of unverified “facts” and dubious ramblings by Aviation minister, Stella Oduah.  She claims that Nigeria is the only country in Africa to have had no airline accidents in the five years prior to Dana Air.  Not true.   She claims that British Airways had an accident “a couple of months back”.   Does she mean the British Airways from Britain?  She also says that the state’s priority is to ensure that citizens are “well protected and safe”.

Dear Ms. Oduah: a well-informed citizen is a well-protected one.  It is not enough to promise that you will keep on “enhancing and enhancing and enhancing”.  Tell us what happened.  Or at least unshackle the coroner’s inquest so he can.  If a hit and run is not OK, then certainly neither is a crash, and cruise.

The inquest had started with tales of firefighters arriving without enough water, the Medical Examiner only seeing the bodies two days post-crash and police first claiming to have attended the crash site before launching into stout denials of ever having been there.  In fact, that inquest had been suspended before, by another ‘government ineptitude problem’ – the lack of electricity. And then the whole thing stopped. Suspended indefinitely.  The government has now given Dana Airlines the thumbs up spread their wings and soar.  And we are left scratching our heads in stunned disbelief.  What exactly is going on???

If it’s true that the pilot reported a dual engine failure just before the plane went down, why hasn’t this been investigated?  Is a feeble website disclaimer mocked up with flickering candles and a somber background all the next-of-kin get as a mea culpa?  That, and a fistful of cash?

It is simply outrageous.  But at least we can vote on this one. With our wallets.  And our choice of airline.  And our stand on an independent, systematic re-haul of the aviation sector. And our refusal to accept a careless abandonment of safety precautions coupled with a sinister blackout of truth.  Let us let Dana Air know that you do not get to crash a plane, block all attempts to uncover the cause and then come back, cap in hand, asking us to 0700 FLYDANA.

Of course, our answer to that is: 0700 NOCHANCE!

*You can sign the petition for change in the sector here. Your choice.


* Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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