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The need for FG to equip NEMA
President Goodluck Jonathan, on Monday,visited the site of last Sunday’s DANA Air tragic crash which claimed all 153 passengers on board with several other people on ground. The president, for obvious reasons, declared that the crash was a major setback to the country’s aviation sector.
He did not only express the desire of his government to improve on the aviation sector in the country but added that his government would investigate the immediate causes of the crash.
His words: “The technical people will do the investigation. We will also look at administrative issues. This is where the National Assembly will play its part. The government will also play a role.” The president has done the right thing somebody in his position was expected to do under such a sad circumstance.
While the president is commended for promising to help improve the sector, it is however pertinent to draw his attention to some critical areas that are calling for government priority which, if done, will further strengthen the sector’s viability in times of emergencies. By the way, it is ironically sad that it is when there is a crash that government often beams searchlight on the sector which has continued to be the bane of the sector.
In line with the President’s promise to ensure the cause of the crash was thoroughly investigated, it is hoped that such investigations should not only be concentrated on airlines and the aviation authorities but also in the area of search and rescue.
The need for searchlight to be beamed on the state of search and rescue in Nigeria becomes necessary in the sense that as long as aircraft take off and land, there will always be emergencies. For the information of the president, as big as the country is, it can only boast of one fire fighting helicopter which is not even 100% reliable. According to information gathered, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) requires about 12 fire fighting helicopters to adequately handle emergencies and yet it presently has one. Even the only one fire fighting helicopter available is being abused by government functionaries who are at liberty to divert it to carry their family members outside the major function the helicopter is required to do.
Obviously, this lack of required fire fighting helicopters are responsible for the abysmal performance of officials in charge of search and rescue in times of crashes for the availability of the helicopters would have gone a long way in preventing the fire that broke out of the last Sunday’s crash from spreading.
Perhaps, if there have been more than one helicopter, help would have reached many people trapped in the buildings the crashed plane rammed into.
Presently, it is known that rather than the search and rescue role the NEMA officials are supposed to perform, they are presently doing more of search and recover due to government’s failure to adequately equip the agency.
While government or anyone should not blame NEMA for these shortcomings, it is hoped that for the sake of the victims of the DANA Air crash victims and for the purpose of saving lives in times of crashes, President Jonathan would have written his name in gold if he can give more priority to the agency. Again, while investigating causes of the crash, government functionaries should watch their comments as any unguarded comment may affect the investigation.
Aviation rules as regards accident investigations should be allowed to hold sway.Share