Special dedication to the victims of the Dana Airplane Crash and all other persons who lost their lives in the mishap, may you find rest in the bosom of the Lord.
Let’s focus on the recent happenings in our country, Nigeria. Although, I must confess that at this moment in our lives most people are in need of comfort due to the recent disaster. Yes, the Dana Airplane Crash, flight 9J-922! I was so tired on the evening of Sunday, the 3rd of June 2012 due to the flurry of activities I had lined up for the day. My spirit was willing but my body was weak, however, in between activities I was opportune to hear the breaking news on the radio and it sounded so unreal because the details were not clear. I called a friend who has the reputation of being very current with the happenings of Nigeria and he confirmed the news. My grief was justified as I heard that all passengers lost their lives to the fatal plane crash, even worse was the fact that the plane crashed into a two storey building.
My heart was gripped with pain and sorrow as I imagined the last minutes and seconds of the victims of the plane crash as well as those unfortunate people who met their death in the affected building. More so, I was paralyzed by grief when I finally saw the mass of bodies charred from the explosion that emanated from the accident.
Further, I learnt that a friend’s colleague was involved and so the stories of people who we knew people who were relatives of the victims flooded into my ears over the next few days after the crash. It is a nightmare that I pray this Nigeria will never relive, but it also brought to my consciousness the type of relationship that our service providers have with us especially in the transportation industry. Service providers in this context are loosely used to accommodate companies that provide services to us in one way or the other. Imagine the nicely dressed air flight attendants of Dana air all clad in red, standing out amongst the other air flight attendants of other airlines! Of course to our mind’s eye what better services can be provided in the aviation industry especially by private airlines apart from having all attractive and very polite flight attendants, nice meals or snacks, lovely looking planes despite its age or hidden faults unknown to us and a record for being timely. However, providing services goes beyond the above as there’s a duty on the company to ensure that their planes are fit for flying. In other words, there’s a duty on the company to fly planes that are not faulty and in cases where the planes are faulty, same should be taken for repairs and unless it has been certified as fit for flying, no station manager or management of a company must instruct a pilot to fly that plane conveying passengers. If and only if this happens then I would say that such a company has aimed for the best in providing top-notch services to its customers. I watched with horror as I listened to a staff of Dana Airline recount the ordeal of that plane that was used to convey passengers on that fateful day of the crash. She stated that the plane has always been faulty and that there was a time the plane was sent for repairs and on coming back it was used for a full trip conveying passengers from one destination to another. She was so pained by the experience and blamed the use of faulty planes on the management of the company. The company on its part has denied the use of faulty planes and in particular stated that the plane used in conveying passengers on that fateful Sunday was not the faulty plane because no pilot would risk his life and that of passengers in flying a faulty plane. The whole incidence has left a lot of speculations on the plane crash ranging from allegations of the residents of Iju Ishaga, Lagos that the ghosts of the victims would hunt them if their bodies are buried at the site of the crash to hydraulic fault of the plane to the history of the ‘faulty’ plane. Sahara reporters have speculated that Dana Airlines might have purchased flight 9J- 992 ‘with a pre-existing safety issue and a troubling past of safety record.’ The aircraft was previously owned by US-based Alaska Airlines.
The relationship service providers have with their customers is not limited to the aviation industry, although my focus is on the transportation industry. It is common knowledge in Nigeria that road accidents are an everyday occurrence and there has been little or no response from the Government to address this issue. Little wonder that some people made reference to the fact that people die on a daily basis from road accidents and the fuss been accorded to the plane crash has never been given to road accidents. Further, people have insinuated that the plane crash is just an accident and accidents do occur. They felt that the major cause of the declaration of the ‘national day mourning’ lies in the fact that rich people were involved in the accident, while this might not be entirely false, we should focus on the larger picture here which is the quality of services been provided in the transportation industry.
Those who travel by road are familiar with the promises of buses that the passengers would travel in air-conditioned buses, thereby increasing the price of their fare and not providing that service at the end of the day. What of the fact that most transporters put faulty buses on the road with the aim of cutting cost by failing to service their buses before embarking on a trip or the occurrence of using faulty tyres in the name of ‘ management’. Many people have lost their lives to that type of carelessness and even worse bad services emanating from the transportation industry. Most of the companies in the transportation industry are more concerned about maximizing profit at the expense of people’s lives. I learnt that Dana Airlines is losing the sum of N50, 000,000.00 (Fifty million naira) daily due to the suspension of its activities by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Perhaps, if all transportation companies have the reputation of paying keen attention to the state of their airplanes, cars or ships, mishap of this nature would be a thing of the past and their most cherished profits will also be utilized because people will always move from part of the country to another either by road or by air being the two major modes of transportation in the country.
I understand my grief and the grief of all Nigerians but it is at a time like this that we need to critically look at the nature of services we are being provided with in the transportation industry.
Perhaps, making that extra effort by our service providers can save millions of lives being lost to the accidents be it road accidents, air accidents and/or sea accidents.
Image credit: Daily Herald/ Jon Gambrell and Yinka Ibukun