Dana crash pushes road travels up by 100%

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Okechukwu Nnodim

Fear of air travel following the June 3, 2012 crash of a Dana Air plane in Lagos has forced many travellers to opt for road transportation, which has been receiving over 100 per cent patronage in the past two weeks.

Our correspondent gathered that many inter-state travellers, who used to patronise the domestic airlines prior to the crash, had now resorted to travelling by road pending when sanity would be restored to air transportation in the country.

Transporters at major inter-state bus terminals in Lagos said on Wednesday that the sudden rise in the number of road travellers was largely due to fear of possible air mishaps.

According to them, stories of the emotional trauma faced by families of victims of the Dana Air crash have made many to discourage their relatives from travelling by air.

The transporters said the number of buses being loaded at the terminals daily had doubled, though they said the situation was not surprising.

A senior employee of Young Shall Grow Motors Nigeria Limited, Mr. Gideon Uba, said, “I have been working here for up to 15 years and since the crash, I realised that some of the people that I know some years ago, who stopped travelling by road due to their change in status, are now back. When I ask them why, they say they prefer going by road for now.

“Before, we were loading between 20 and 30 mini-buses here in Maza-Maza; but now, we load up to 50 buses daily, and this is mainly because of the plane crash. People are afraid of going by air now. Even in some communities, people who used to travel by air are being advised not to do so again.”

A manager at Chisco Motors’ Jibowu terminus said inter-state bus operators in the area had noticed the rise in passenger traffic lately and urged the government to try and restore the confidence of air travellers, stressing that many were beginning to doubt the safety of air travel in the country.

The manager, who pleaded not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the rise in passenger volume by the company in the last two weeks was over 100 per cent.

He said, “Since that crash, when you come out here in the morning, you will think we are in the Christmas season when many people travel. But this is not so; rather, it is due to the fear of travelling by air.

“Our government really has a lot of work to do if they must win back the minds of most people who used to travel by air.”

In his reaction, the Lagos Manager, Okeyson Transport Services Nigeria Limited, Mr. Remi Okafor, said, “We mourn with the families of those who were affected by the crash, but the truth is that this has led to some changes in favour of road transport operators. A lot of people, who ordinarily travel by air, now like to go by road, and this has increased the number of buses we load.

“For instance, before the crash, the number of buses from our branches in Lagos, which travel to the eastern part of the country and Abuja, used to be around 20 to 25; but now, we load as much as 40 to 45 buses daily, and more passengers are still coming by the day.”

“We hope the government will work hard to restore the confidence of air travellers. I also want to use this medium to plead with the government to fix our roads, because the numbers of vehicles plying these roads have increased significantly,” Okafor added.

The President, Aviation Round-Table, a body of industry professionals, Captain Dele Ore, told our correspondent that the drop in air travel was expected and that the situation would improve in due course.

Reacting to the development, a passenger at the Maza-Maza bus terminal, Mr. Joel Nnamdi, told our correspondent that he would not travel by air again until investigations into the crash of the Dana aircraft were completed.

“It has been the custom of our company to send its employees to our head office in Abuja by air, but since the crash, most of us have resolved not to go by air until the government completes its investigation. Most families are afraid of allowing their loved ones to travel by air and I think it is wise going by road at the moment,” Nnamdi said.

Another traveller, Mr. Kazeem Badmos, said, “The aviation authorities, the government and the airlines have a lot of work to do to win back the hearts of air travellers. I am not a regular air traveller, though I travel with Aero Contractors occasionally.

“But the recent crash has shown that our airlines are beginning to cut corners and are compromising safety.”


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