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General News of Saturday, 31 August 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Plane crash victims’ families still not compensated

Sunday June 2, 2013 was one year ago when an Allied Air Cargo plane skidded off the runway at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in rainy weather and crashed into a minibus travelling on the El-Wak Stadium-37 Hospital road in Accra.

The aircraft, a Boeing 727-200 operated by Allied Air of Nigeria, had taken off from Lagos and was carrying general goods including textiles, perfume and clothing from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire when it overshot the KIA runway and struck the minibus, killing all 10 passengers including the driver.

Checks by The Mirror reveal that since the incident occurred, relatives and families of the 10 victims who died have yet to receive any compensation for their loss.

Not long after the disaster, however, family members of the victims were each given $2000 towards the cost of burying their deceased relatives.

But that notwithstanding, Mr Kenneth Asiamah, father of George Osei, the driver of the minibus (trotro) who died in the accident, has expressed regret over the delay in payment of compensation to families of the victims some of whom he said had taken up the responsibility for looking after children that had been left behind.

“Following the funerals for the victims, not much has been heard from either the airline or the government for that matter. I do not understand how a thing like that can be allowed to happen in this country and the culprit(s) seemingly made to spirit off,” he said.

According to Mr Asiamah, he, together with four other families, has contracted the services of a lawyer with the hope that someday something good may show up.

In September last year, lawyers for Allied Air said they had received claims for compensation of those who lost their lives in the accident.

Speaking at the time to the Daily Graphic, Mr James Quarshie-Idun, lawyer for the airline, said the claims were received on behalf of the airline and were being processed to determine the payment of appropriate compensation to the victims.

He, however, did not elaborate on how many claims had been received and the quantum of money being claimed, saying those were private issues.

At the time of going to press, Lawyer Quarshie-Idun could not be reached for an update on the matter, but a source from the lawyer’s chamber gave a hint that some claims that were received had been processed and paid, but would not elaborate on the amounts involved.

Meanwhile, attempts by The Mirror to get information on compensation for victims’ families from the Ministry of Transport, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Ghana Air, local agents of Allied Air, who are considered key sources of information, have been unsuccessful as officials have remained tight-lipped and keep passing the buck among themselves.

The Minister of Transport, Ms Dzifa Ativor, told The Mirror that the ministry was not an insurance company and therefore was not in the business of paying compensations.

She said the payment of insurance to the deceased was an issue between the aircraft owners and the families of the deceased and, therefore, gave directions to the GCAA.

At the GCAA, a source who asked not to be named said the Authority was exclusively a regulatory agency for air transportation services in the country that only had the responsibility to license and grant certification for air transport operations.

He averred that the GCAA did not have anything to do insofar as payment of compensations was concerned.

He consequently directed The Mirror back to the Ministry of Transport.

The Mirror traced the local representative of the airline to the AFGO Village near the Kotoka International Airport where an expatriate official, who also would not disclose his name, directed The Mirror to the offices of DHL, the company whose goods were being freighted by the airline at the time of the incident.

In discussions, the official sought to lay responsibility for the payment of compensation at the doorstep of DHL.

But the Country Manager of DHL, Mr Kader Coulibaly, expressed surprise as to how anybody would consider the company to be the entity that should pay compensation to the victims’ families or relations.

“You know, DHL is a big global organisation that has its own airlines operating in some countries. However, because we do not have our own aircraft operating in Ghana, we rely on our sales agent, which is Ghana Air, to find for us a commercial airplane to transport our goods. In this case, we had our goods on Allied Air and we were not the only ones, other people also had goods on the aircraft.

“It is quite like loading your goods onto a commercial vehicle that gets involved in an accident and being asked to pay compensation to the victims involved. That’s quite difficult to take,” he said.

The passengers who lost their lives on that day, in addition to the driver, included Kennedy Hlordzi,18, a student; Kwame Boadu, aka Nana Yaw, 24, driver’s mate; Castro Abuchow, 26; James Yaw Norgbodo, 26; Gideon Ansah Kumi, 19; Maxwell Lavor, 22; Evans Abayel Tabanyeng, 34, and Ishmael Dautey, 35.

Two other people who were in a taxicab which was grazed by the aircraft on the El-Wak-Burma Camp road, however, escaped unhurt while all the four crew members of the aircraft survived the accident.

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