Akpabio: I warned Dana Airline about crash

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Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state said on Sunday that he had earlier lodged a complaint with the management of Dana Air before the unfortunate plane crashed at Iju-Ishaga, Lagos on 3 June.

Akpabio told reporters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, that he intimated the management of the complaints he received about a faulty aircraft being used by the airline.

“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.We knew that most of the planes on their fleet were getting faulty or rusty, so, we were very concerned as a state government.

“I told the management why experimenting with the lives of Nigerians. I warned the management to recall what happened to ADC airline. This was the way ADC started and all of a sudden, they were putting faulty aircraft in the air. At the end, so many lives were lost and unfortunately, you cannot replace lives,’’ the governor said.

He said that he warned Dana to ensure adequate maintenance or suspend 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 rest in perfect peace. I pray that we will use the outcome of the investigation to better the aviation industry,’’ Akpabio said.

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The governor noted that government must ensure proper monitoring of airlines operating in the country to ensure they were airworthy.

He also urged the Federal Government to think of how the country would have a befitting national carrier that would be the first choice to fly.

“A country with 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 we are having mushroom airlines coming on board. I think it is something we must sit down and think about again because the situation now is urgent. We must not even delay it,’’ he said.

Akpabio noted that aviation and transport were part of social services which all level of governments should not ignore, otherwise, the public would continue to be exposed to extortion and dangers.

“It took America, Britain and others bailing out private companies for them to survive. Like the General Motors in America, the government has 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.

He said that the state was looking for reputable companies outside Nigeria that would take over the maintenance hangar at the Akwa Ibom International Airport, Uyo. The governor said that the airport would be completed later in 2012.