Me, Myself & I

The World the way I see it

Sosoliso and Chanchangi Grounded

Posted by Luminus on December 14, 2005

Stakeholders in the aviation industry, who met yesterday in Abuja over the spate of air crashes in the country yesterday gave President Olusegun Obasanjo sweeping powers to sanitise the ailing sector.

And, the President did not waste time in wielding the big stick. He immediately barred two airlines , Sosoliso and Chanchangi, from further operations until they conclude all due checks on their aircraft.

This is part of a news article culled from the Guardian Website. Read the complete article. A similar story is here. This sounds like music to my ears, firstly because amongst frequent flyers, Chanchangi Airlines has been given the nickname of “Flying Coffin”, and secondly because for some inexplicable reasons, Sosoliso continued to fly even after news of the incident on Saturday.

You’re probably wondering why Bellview Airlines was not barred from operations, well, here’s your answer

Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, denied that the banning of Sosoliso and Chanchangi was on ethnic grounds. He said that the action was based on a letter written by Ekaette in December 13, 2004 but which only came to the President’s attention on Monday night.

The letter was on near mishaps recorded by the two airlines last year.

He said that though Bellview recorded a mishap on October 22, 2005, it was not included based because investigations had not been concluded on the cause of the crash of its aircraft.

Fani-Kayode told journalists at the Presidential Villa that “the grounding of Chanchangi and Sosoliso was based on a letter the President received last night (Monday). The letter clearly stated that both airlines are defective in their maintenance.”

He added: “It is unfortunate the letter written (December 13, 2004) was never presented to Mr. President. But yes, Bellview was not affected by the letter. Bellview is currently under investigations. And if in the end, they are found culpable for any negligence, the appropriate sanctions would be applied. The non-inclusion of Bellview has no tribal leaning. Sosoliso is owned by an Igbo. Chanchangi is owned by a Northerner. No, Mr. President doesn’t indulge in such petty sectional agenda.”

The letter was written by Ekaette and passed to the former Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Isa Yuguda.

Asked why the letter meant for presidential approval was not passed by Yuguda, Fani-Kayode simple said: “Ask Yuguda.”

Why anyone would insinuate that ethnicity has anything to do with this just baffles me. It amamzes me how many Nigerians see everything that happens as some sort of marginalization agenda. We’re talking about the lives of people, Citizens of Nigeria and others, not livestock, and the first thought that comes to their minds is, Oh! it’s because I’m not from the same tribe as him.

The airlines were shut down based on intelligence report that they were unfit to fly Nigeria’s airspace, the President also ordered that all aircrafts in the country must undergo a check within one week. Where’s the tribal leaning in that?
Apart from the fact that the Bellview crash is still under investigation (why that is, I wonder), Bellview airlines up until October 22, 2005 had a near perfect service record.

The Stakeholders also endorsed the following decisions, which I think are long over due, thankfully, we’re moving in he right direction.

  • All aircraft flying and operating in Nigeria’s domestic airspace will be checked out within a week and those found to be defective in any way in servicing records, age, maintenance and operational capacity, will be grounded;
  • Sosoliso and Chanchangi airlines will be grounded with immediate effect, until all their aircraft can secure clearance by the new inspection agency within one week;
  • To ensure integrity of inspections, two International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) officials have been seconded to Nigeria to join the team of inspectors. If necessary, we will ask for more of ICAO officials;
  • New classification and method of inspection is being established through International Air Transport Association (IATA) and will be in place before the end of January 2006;
  • A committee headed by Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike (Air Officer Commanding), is hereby established as a special task force to carry out urgent supplies, repairs and maintenance of all airport facilities and equipment to meet international standard. The members of the committee are Captain Roland Iyayi, chairman of FAAN board, Engineer Mohammed Danbaba, Captain Austin Okon, Architect Tunji Bolu, Tony Elumelu and the Managing Director of Virgin Nigeria; and
  • Global radar is being established for the entire country and particularly for all airports, and this will be completed by December 2006. (This has been on board and what the Minister of Aviation told me – President Obasanjo – is that Lagos will be the beginning and other airports will follow)
  • The Minister of Aviation shall effect necessary personnel disengagement and deployment across the parastatals immediately, with due process. Professionalisation of the parastatals will be enforced; and
  • The Civil Aviation Bill that will grant operational autonomy to the NCAA is before the National Assenbly (NASS) and hopefully it will be passed by March 2006.

I sincerely hope that these issues will be properly addressed, because we’ve lost way too many valuable lives to airplane crashes and if anything is not done about it, tomorrow it could be me or you or somebody we know.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that the Government does right by us and if there’s anything we as individuals or corporate organizations can do, now would be a good time to step forward.

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