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Needless Tears...One Plane Crash Too Many.
Author: Prince Charles Dickson | October 30, 2006

I was just in conversation with my wife and the topic was the last Bellview aircrash in Lisa Village last year, we had lost a young friend of ours in the flight, Sunday Meseko who was with Dunlop, it was Sunday morning and I was asking to know how far they had gone with the compensation from Bellview. The outcome was not positive because the company Dunlop had filed for claims with the wife as next of kin, while the family through a brother had also filed a claim, and this was to the advantage of Bellview as the mandatory two years for which one could contest the claims was approaching fast, if one did not act fast, the airline logically benefits. This was the mood in my house while myself and wife argued the whole episode out and then breaking news on the television and friends started bombarding me with calls "any survivor, where was the plane headed too, which airline...etc." One does not just write or criticize government for the fun of it, or because its a hobby, no, not at all, most of my writings or essays bring tears to my eyes for this nation and its leadership, to a point the question one wants answer to, is not more than what is the matter with us? Some couple of months ago I was a passenger in that particular airplane and my destination was Sokoto, as fate would have it, on a Sunday too, I had noted to my colleague on that particular flight there was something about the plane that I just was not comfortable about, and then on landing in Sokoto we nearly overshot the runway, it was not funny at all. I survived it but this Sunday, the Sultan of Sokoto, the Sokoto State Deputy Governor, two Senators, and almost a hundred others have paid the price. I would leave the issue of plane age and mechanical factors to the expert to face, but for the common man on the streets, is this not one too many, when will it stop, is it not strange that in the last 15 months we have lost more people in these crashes that the last ten years? There are too many questions that need common sense answers...the cause of the Bellview crash is yet to be ascertained, that of Sosoliso was given a wave of the hand report that blamed the wind, storm and what have we. In very sad terms I doubt the Generals that lost their lives weeks back have settled in and we pour more souls into mourning. What could have resulted in a plane crashing just barely minutes after take off and leaving virtually all on board dead. Our roads are death traps, the rail system only exist on paper, better still it is in view. Can somebody explain to us how we now have potholes, and ditches on air? Even the explanations of the experts do not make any real meaningful sense as to why these crashes. In politics, citizens are killed, in our ordinary day lives we are preys to robbers, the health sector can barely cater for us, our roads are no better, the educational system is suffering endemic failure and that is one of the reasons the Maccido was in Abuja to attend one of the abracadabra called Presidential forum on Education. The Sultan had the interest of his subjects at heart that is why he left his domain in the first place to go and contribute to the National Reform on the educational sector but little did he know what fate and destiny and conspired to do. Life indeed is cruel. the Sultan gone, his son gone, his grandson gone also, how about the Senator who was with his wife and son...what words of consolation do we offer the families of the faithfully departed. Only last week the President was blowing his trumpet how the Bellview crash had led to a significant turnaround in the industry and the usual bla bla bla. It is okay, I believed the President, although I should not have, the question is, if all these reforms had been faithfully accomplished then what is hunting the nation's skies. The Port Harcourt Airport has been closed for some while to effect repairs but the Akanu Ibiam airport is in a mess, the Owerri Airport that is supposed to be back up for the closed Port Harcourt Airport is barely coping. Just the week gone, a new airline was launched amidst fanfare but then its first foray into the air was aborted due to technical problems and this was supposedly a new aircraft from its fleet. The government has ordered a three day national mourning, we have just finished Ramadan, weeks ago we mourned a generation of officers of the Army, how many more days do we have to mourn this year alone. The President could not even show his face apart from his personal grief as we were told by his media aide, he must be too ashamed of the men that has handled the aviation industry. Why cry over split milk...whom have we held responsible for the Bellview, Sosoliso, Donier, or as usual we just leave it to Almighty Allah. When does a Minister resign, when does a leader say I am sorry, I have failed, I do not have solutions, please help me...who has cursed the Nigerian skies, travel by road is one that leaves one besieged either by robbers or unmotorable roads. The President has ordered immediate investigation, he is personally grieved and that was it, one could tell that the President was lost for words. Local gin called Ogogoro may look like water but it is not water. The Zamfara Governor could barely hold his tears, men and women gone without even the courtesy of saying good bye. Our problem is that the nation has no transportation policy, even the onslaught on the aviation sector makes no sense if we do not have a workable transport policy. Transport demand in Nigeria has increased substantially, due to increases in population as a result of both natural increase and migration from rural areas and smaller towns. Availability of motorized transport, increases in household income, and increases in commercial and industrial activities have further added to transport demand. In many cases, demand has outstripped road capacity. Greater congestion and delays are widespread and indicate the seriousness of transport problems. Roads are in a state of hell on earth, a high level of pollution is another undesirable feature of overloaded streets. The transport crisis also takes a human toll which is evident for all to see. Statistics indicate that traffic accidents are a primary cause of accidental deaths in Nigeria, but deaths from air accident is on the increase in triple figures. The main reasons for these problems are the prevailing imbalance in modal split, inadequate transport infrastructure, and its suboptimal use. Public transport systems have not been able to keep pace with the rapid and substantial increases in demand over the past few decades. Bus services in particular have deteriorated, and their relative output and unfortunately the dilapidation has left the roads undrivable and is now in the skies. We banned Okada in the city center, maybe this ban be extended to the skies and left with the road and rail, government may by error sit up. There is an urgent need for a transportation system that is seamlessly integrated across all modes. The various modes of public transport, including intermediate public transport, have to work in tandem. They should complement rather than involve themselves in cutthroat competition. The fact that air transport is relatively affordable has also made it a bolekaja affair as passengers that would otherwise prefer a train journey cannot have that privilege. The ADC is the only airline that plies the Sokoto-Abuja route, so it is the easiest way to get to Sokoto every Sunday and Wednesday, so as the case was last Sunday, when this occurs, the casualty is better imagined. Every Sunday the who is who is often aboard that flight, if only they had an equally suitable option. Poor man die, big man die, everybody dies, one way or the other but as much as we believe in Almighty Allah's perfect will, as humans we ask, is the tears any worth, why the needless tears for tragedies that may have been avoidable. We cannot bring back these great men, al of them not just the Sultan, again we have added to the long list, widows, orphans, and the land again, sucks up more innocent blood. The Holy Book says...If my people that are called by my name shall humble themselves, seek my face, confess their sins, I am the Lord, I shall forgive them I shall heal the land. Prince Charles Dickson Jos, Plateau Nigeria

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