NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday urged the Federal Government of Nigeria, to review all airlines operating licenses including the foreign airlines, saying comprehensive checks “on airworthiness of all the aircraft should be conducted before renewing the licenses of all the airlines.”
This came as the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, while decrying perceived slow response by emergency and rescue agencies in the country, called on the government to build newer capabilities in the management of airspace to reduce carnage in our Air travels.
The trio NLC, TUC and PENGASSAN while reacting to Sunday afternoon Dana Airline crash in Iju-Shaga, Lagos which claimed over 170 lives, asked government to immediately investigate the immediate and remote causes of the disaster and why hours after the crash in a residential area, coordinated rescue operation was yet to begin.
NLC in a statement by its President Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, said Federal Government should also put in place a policy of pegging the age of aircrafts operating in Nigerian airspace, lamenting that the crash could have been averted if the appropriate regulatory agencies were effective in their responsibilities.
The statement read “From reports, it is apparent that the crash could have been averted if the appropriate regulatory agencies were effective in their responsibilities. The airplane involved was alleged to have been faulty and this is said to have been to the knowledge of the management of the airline. We urge the Federal Government to urgently overhaul the aviation industry, review the licenses of all airlines operating in Nigeria, including foreign airlines, conduct proper checks on the airworthiness of all the aircrafts before renewing the licenses of all the airlines. Federal Government should also put in place a policy of pegging the age of aircrafts operating in Nigerian airspace.”
“We believe the safety of all air travelers in Nigeria should be paramount to the regulatory agencies as well as the airlines that seem to have placed their priority only on profit and not safety. Specifically urge the government to do a thorough, transparent and far reaching investigation of this particular crash. We believe the government should not wait for a repeat of this monumental disaster to reoccur before taking steps to protect the lives of all categories of air travelers within the Nigerian airspace as it is obvious that no one is excluded from the dangers the air industry obviously portend. We pray that God should give the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the crash the fortitude to bear this grave national loss.”
Similarly, TUC in a statement by its President-General and Secretary-General, Comrade Peter Esele and Chief John Kolawole respectively, said “we call on the federal government of Nigeria through its various Aviation agencies: the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA to strengthen their capacities to make our Airspace safer. We do not know the circumstances that must have led to the crash of the Aircraft but we do know that the Dana Flight was less than few minutes to its destination – the MM2. It therefore may have been a navigational or mechanical problem. The Government must immediately investigate the immediate and remote causes of this disaster and why even after hours of this crash in a residential area well known to the authorities, coordinated rescue operation was yet to begin.” “Though the nation’s Airspace has been relatively free of these disasters for a while, we want the Aviation regulators to see in this, opportunities to build newer capabilities in the management of our Airspace to reduce carnage in our Air travels. Fleets must be constantly maintained and upgraded to avoid future disasters of this nature. This unfortunate crash has also exposed the yawning gap in our disaster management capabilities especially in the area of Search and Rescue operations. We have to develop deliberately effective and efficient capacity to respond to emergencies of this nature. This translates into conscious manpower training and acquisition, equipment and logistics enhancements etc.”
PENGASSAN in a statement by its President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun said, “This is very sad and I urged the Federal Government not to make the issue of the investigations only a rhetoric but to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the crash. The investigation must be carried out promptly and report made available to the public unlike what obtained in similar crashes in the past. All those found culpable or negligent in causing this crash must be prosecuted for murder as that is what they have committed. From information so far, it seems there was compromise of standards and safety by the management of the Dana Airlines and probably by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the civil aviation supervisory agency.”
“Nigerians particularly the flying public had been lured into a false sense of security and safety in the skies but this Dana crash has jolted us out of our façade sense of safety with devastating effect. This needless loss of hundreds of lives of innocent children, women and men from all walks of life including the oil industry has again brought to the fore the need for regulatory agencies to be alive to their responsibility and shun the tendency to aid operators in cutting corners thereby putting lives at risk. It would be recalled that our late president, Comrade U. M. Okoro died in a similar air crash in 2005.”
The union advised the Federal Government to equip the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with modern facilities to enable it respond to emergency situation on time.
On its part NUPENG in a statement by its Acting General Secretary, Comrade Isaac Aberare, said “It is on record that the nation has not witnessed such magnitude of air disasters in recent times. We are therefore at a loss of what went wrong. We therefore call on the Federal Government to quickly commence full investigation into the cause of the accident with a view to averting more air crashes.