By Kenneth Ehigiator
Senate President, David Mark, yesterday recommended very stiff sanctions on owners of Sosoliso and ADC Airlines for failing to pay full compensations to families of victims of their crashed airliners in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Although the issue is before the Senate Committee on Aviation, the senate president noted that the matter had taken too long to be resolved, stressing that drastic problems deserved drastic solutions.
Senator Mark, who spoke in an interview with newsmen at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was particularly angry that the Sosoliso plane that crashed at Port Harcourt International Airport had no adequate insurance cover at the time it crashed, making it now difficult for the airline to pay compensation.
He said:Â â€œ There is no way there could have been an aircraft in the air without any insurance cover.Â Â The airlines, who ran the aircraft, if they did not have insurance cover, the owners must be held responsible.
â€œThey should be given maximum punishment; people should not get away with illegality in this country.Â There are individuals, Nigerians, who are involved, Nigerians who are in partnership with foreigners, if they commit an offence, they should be dealt with appropriately.
I recommend more than prosecution.
â€œProsecution is just not the solution to the problem; drastic offences require veryÂ drastic punishmentÂ as a means ofÂ deterring people, so that people do not get away with it , but imagine if you are the one involved.
â€œIf your family member is involved, you know how it feels, people cannot be so reckless, lawless , careless, that they do things without qualms.Â It is totally unacceptable in any societyâ€
He noted that aviation safety was one of the issues the senate deliberated upon in 2007, with a view to averting a situation airlines default in paying compensation to families of crash victims.
Mark said the regulatory agency, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), should be able to sanction airlines who default in payment of compensation, wondering why it had not been able to make the airlines pay the required compensation.
â€œI think the NCAA , which regulate the aviation industry must sanction airlines that cannot carry out their simple obligationsÂ to passengers.
I do not see why they have not been able to sanction ADC, and Sosoliso, even if the airlines are no longer flying is not an issue.
â€œThe airlines are registered as business entities; there are individuals who registered the airlines, individuals who are there, they must have had an insurance, so why canâ€™t they pay,â€ the senate president said.