Senate tasks government on safety of Nigerian air travellers

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By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Following the death of two Nigerians in the recently crashed Boeing 737 Max 8, the Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to ensure that all aircrafts operating within the country are air worthy in order to keep Nigerian air travellers safe at all times.

This was sequel to a motion by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa on the need for Nigeria to protect its airspace from the Ethiopian airlines, Boeing 737 series pending the determination of its air worthiness during Tuesday’s plenary.

A former United Nations and African Union Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Sudan, Ambassador Abiodun Bashua and a Professor of Literary Arts in Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, Pius Adesanmi, were among the 157 victims of the Ethiopian passengers airline.

The airline caught fire few minutes after taking off and killed all its occupants on Sunday, March 10 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Senate however, commended the Ministry of Aviation and NCAA “for moving swiftly in mitigating the operations of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 series aircraft within the Nigerian airspace in order to ensure the safety of all Nigerians”.

Presenting the motion, Senator Ashafa noted that the two Nigerians who lost their lives in the ill-fated flight ET-302, “are individuals who have distinguished themselves in their fields and till their deaths remained worthy ambassadors of the country in the Diaspora.”

He recalled that sometimes in October 2018, a brand new Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 went down over the Java Sea killing 189 people, adding that the Ethiopian Airlines flight that killed 157 people including two illustrious Nigerians was equally a Boeing 737 Max 8 series.

According to him, the pilots have reportedly complained about the anti-stall system installed on the aircraft models Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 series, commending the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika for assuring that no Nigerian airlines currently operates the aircraft series.

Last week, the minister stated that Nigeria does not have in its register, the Boeing 737 Max 8 series, a playing fears of citizens over any possible danger. Other countries, including Ethiopia, United States, United Kingdom and China also banned the operations of Boeing 737 Max 8 series within their airspaces.

Senator Ashafa also noted that the NCAA had already issued an advisory statement “that nobody should fly out of Nigeria or into Nigeria using the 737 Max 8 and 9 pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer themselves which is Messrs Boeing.”

Senators Biodun Olujimi and Mao Ohuabunwa, commended the federal government for banning the operations of the aircraft series within the country’s airspace, calling for revival of its own airline as it used to be in the days of Nigeria Airways.

They urged the government to ensure proper regulation of all airlines operating in the country and to perform a total overhaul of the aircrafts with a view to saving the lives of air travellers.

Lateefah Ibrahim