Scene of the Dana plane crash
By Chinedu Eze
As Dana Air insurers are trying to settle relatives of the victims of the 146 passengers on board the Flight J9 0992 which crashed at Iju/Ishaga area of Lagos on June 3, 2012 with seven crew members, the victims on ground whose properties were damaged are claiming N500 million each, while some of the relatives of the victims who died in the aircraft are demanding $150,000.
Although it is believed that those who died on the ground when the aircraft crashed into buildings and trees in the area were 10, there is no stated amount of compensation for them and in a recent media briefing by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Director General of the agency, Dr Harold Demuren, insisted that the ground victims of the crash must be settled.
The 2006 Civil Aviation Act states that the minimum liability limits set for airlines operating within Nigeria as stipulated in the Second and Third Schedule of the Act is $100,000.
According to the Act, “The following liability limits shall apply to domestic operations: compensation in case of death or injury of passengers: USD$100, 000; destruction, loss, damage or delay of baggage: USD$1,000.”
The Act is silent on compensation for possible ground victims of any air accident so, unless the airline and those who lost their properties and relatives of those who died on ground mutually agree on compensation, the matter may be settled in court.
Head of Communications of Dana Air, Tony Usidamen, told THISDAY on Monday that the airline was already talking with the ground victims of the crash, but noted that the management of the airline was in a quandary about specific terms of compensation for them as the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 did not say how they could be compensated, adding that the airline is strictly abiding by the recommendations of the Act.
On the compensation of the relatives of the victims on board the ill-fated flight, NCAA said 131 victims had so far submitted documents for payment of compensation; families of 12 of the victims were yet to submit any document, while families of two victims were yet to submit full documentation.
NCAA also said families of 53 victims had gone to court, including 23 relatives of the victims who had collected the initial payment of $30,000.
“Documentation for 24 victims is awaiting authentication by the insurers. Letters of Administration (LOA) for families of 48 victims are still being awaited,” NCAA said.
The regulatory body also said that cheques for the initial payment of $30,000 compensation had been paid to the relatives of 85 victims and that “issues of multiple claims are being carefully handled.”
NCAA explained that in order for the families to collect the remaining $70,000 compensation, LoA was required by the reinsurance company and a letter was written to the Lagos State government to waive some of the documents required in order to fast track the process, a request which the state government obliged.
Recently, one of the ground victims who lost his property in the crash, Daniel Omowumi, told journalists that he lost over N500 million to the crash.
Omowumi explained that he waited till now to seek redress over the alleged “gross insensitivity of Dana Air” to his plight as a mark of respect for the 153 passengers that perished in the crash.
He explained that since June 20, 2012, following the request of the airline, he forwarded a comprehensive letter of claim through his solicitor Messers Dele Adesina and Co, but many months after, the airline was yet to respond, but only gave N500, 000, as temporary relief for those who had nowhere to go after their residential buildings were damaged.
Omowunmi said he rejected the money because it would not in any way address the inconvenience, torture and homelessness his family had suffered after the crash.