The nation again witnessed another round of heart-rendering pains last Sunday, when a Dana Air plane crashed into a suburb of Lagos State, killing the passengers and many hapless people who had the singular misfortune of being at the various residences at the time the incidence occurred. OLAOLU OLADIPO in this write-up attempts to appraise the economic losses and gains occasioned by the accident to the people of Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State.
Until last Sunday’s ill-fated crash of Dana Air’s flight 992, Iju-Ishaga community of Lagos State was relatively unknown to many people outside the state. Some, who live inside the state, would perhaps only have an idea of a big waterworks project in Iju that serves almost half the population of the sprawling metropolis of Lagos.
Apart from losses amounting to billions of naira, seven houses were destroyed after the pilot reportedly made a distress call to the control tower over engine trouble, thus putting the community and its environ not only on national but also international radar, albeit for the wrong and negative reasons.
Since then, members of the media, government officials and hordes of crowd have soon turned Olaniyi Street, the crash spot, to a Mecca of sorts, thus stimulating a new wave of business opportunities in the area just as it has also led to economic misfortune for others.
Initial shock and pains
The area lies within the air route leading to the nation’s main aviation hub, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA).
Residents have been used to drone of aircraft over the years, and they have never envisaged that their community would one day become popular for the wrong reason of aircraft crash.
The residents never gave a thought to the fact that their area would become host to hordes of curious Nigerians who have come to see a plane crash for the first, and hopefully, last time.
Opinions differ on how the aircraft went down, but there was consensus by those who should know that there were some last minutes ditch efforts by the pilot to avert the unfortunate incidence. Eye witness accounts said the pilot tried very hard to gain balance as it came down, crashing into a warehouse owned by Thursmay International, a book publishing firm, and causing collateral damage on adjourning buildings.
An eye witness, Kabiru Salami, a resident of 107 Odetunde Street, a street leading to Olaniyi Street where the aircraft crashed, said he was on the balcony of his house when the aircraft rammed into the warehouse. “I was outside on the balcony when suddenly I saw the aircraft coming down forcefully” he said.
“The aircraft was moving in a zigzag manner. I was shocked when one of its wings pushed down the coconut and mango trees on its path. It did not come down with its nose. The nose was raised up while the tail side went down till it hit the two-storey building with its belly side and finally fell on both the building and the factory,” he said.
Another eyewitness, Pastor Fredrick Akingbe, a resident of Popoola Street, said he had just left his church close to the warehouse when he heard a big bang and by the time he came out, thick smoke was billowing into the atmosphere and he had to run out of his home.
Some huge business losses
Apart from Dana Air, the owners of the crashed plane, another loser is Thursmay Educational Services, owners of the warehouse where the ill-fated plane crashed. When the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Bayo Adebayo, spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY in his office, shortly after inspecting what remained of the warehouse, he alleged that his company has lost over N200 million worth of goods to the incidence.
Adebayo called for assistance, saying the firm is in a dire strait. “All our goods are stocked in that warehouse, you know we deal in books and instructional materials. So, we have stocked the place well with our books in readiness for the commencement of the new school academic calendar, but all have been destroyed due to no fault of ours,” he claimed.
In calling for remedial palliatives, Adebayo urged government to come to his company’s aid to mitigate the loss, saying such was needed if the company is to recovered from the huge amount of merchandise lost to the incidence. “If the loss is not remedied at a short period of time, the company may be at the verge of collapse.
“We have over 50 people being engaged by us (the company), we even planned to employ more when the process of distributing the books commence, but all that will not be now. If that does not happen, then we might be forced to lay off those working for us,” a worried Adebayo said.
As a way out, he said his company would take its case to the yet-to-be-inaugurated committee, to be set up by the Federal Government, to look into ways of paying compensation to the victims, where he hopes to get the much-needed succour.
“Everything we depended upon to pay the salaries of workers, to run the company, has been destroyed alongside the company.
So, our appeal is that when everything dies down and the process of setting up a panel and submitting of reports come, we feel that a due compensation must be given to us because this is a third party to the company,” he said.
Brisk business as site attracts people
The site continues to attract curious Nigerians who still troop there from far and wide to see what is left of the wreckage of the plane, just as petty traders smile home as they make brisk business.
Though rescue operations by relevant state and federal agencies have continued in Iju-Ishaga, site of the crash, in an effort to recover the remains of those still trapped in the wreckage, Olaniyi Street, where the incidence occurred has continued to play host to many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are there to see things for themselves.
When compared to the horde of crowd that thronged the site on Sunday, June 3, one would say that there has been a marked reduction in the number, but the size was still substantial when LEADERSHIP SUNDAY visited the site on Wednesday.
The crowd, which did not in anyway hampered the work of the rescue operators compared to the past, however provided an avenue for petty traders to make brisk business as they sold their wares to the crowd at almost double the amount it should be.
Most of the things that the people bought ranged from sachet water to food and other consumables such as snacks, beverages and other edibles.
One of the traders who spoke to our correspondent, Modinat Bakare, said her earnings had since doubled since the unfortunate incident as she had to sell more of her beverages, unlike when she stayed in her stall few metres away from the site.
Bakare, who though lamented the loss, stated that “I have been making money since the plane crashed on Sunday. On the average, I now sell between 10 and 12 crates of soft drinks to people who come around to see the crash plane.”
On her part, Josephine Onime said she had to reduce her sales in other petty goods to concentrate on the sale of pure water. “That is what most of the people who come here buy most.”
Another category of people who have been benefitting hugely from the incident are commercial motorcyclists, known as Okada riders. Apart from the fact that the frequency of their shuttle had increased, they have also hiked their fees as well.
For instance, a journey from Agbado Junction to Iju-Ishaga that used to cost N100 had increased to N200 with eager patrons jumping on them to get to the scene of the crash on time.
Urban renewal opportunities
With the crash, the state government may have decided to embark upon a new wave of urban renewal drive to ensure that the buildings in the area meet with stipulated standards.
As a start, the government is expected to conduct structural tests on buildings located around the scene of the crash to ascertain their fitness for habitation. It would make sure that defective ones are pulled down while making sure that the outlay of the streets conforms to internationally-stipulated standard.
Dropping the hint was Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, the general manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), when he told journalists on Tuesday at the scene of the crash that efforts would be put in place for successful testing.
To ensure thorough cleanliness, he said that after the clearing of debris, the Ministry of Environment and Health would fumigate the area to guide against epidemics.
“The rubbles from the affected buildings and plane are being carried to Olusosun dump site,’’ he added.