The House of Representatives yesterday ordered the management of Dana Air to pay the required compensation to the families of victims of the Dana plane crash on June 3 which killed 153 people on board in Lagos.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Rep. Yakub Abiodun Balogun, the House gave Dana until next Tuesday to comply with its resolution in accordance with international treaties.
In his motion, Balogun argued that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act, which stipulates that 30 percent of due compensation be paid to families of airborne crash victims within 30 days, should be paid while investigation into cause of such accidents is ongoing.
The MPs maintained that the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, popularly known as the Montreal Convention, adopted by a diplomatic meeting of member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 1999, stipulated a Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for victims of air crash, which current value is put at about 171,000 dollars per passenger.
Coming under matters of urgent public importance, the legislators further argued that since Section 48 of the Civil Aviation Act stipulated that an advance payment of 30 percent of the SDR be made within 30 days. The House urged the management of Dana Air to comply.
Reacting to the deadline, Dana spokesman Tony Usidamen said the next of kin of the victims have to be identified before the insurance claims can be paid.
"The company has now made direct contact with 119 of the 120 families who lost loved ones in the accident and have also made contact with the 9 embassies managing communications with the families of those victims from other countries. As of the Close of business on Thursday, June 28, the company had received completed insurance forms for 50 of the victims, 4 of which are our staff members," he noted.
In his reaction, the CEO of the Aviation Resource Service limited, Captain Daniel Omale ,said 140,000 dollars is the international standard for compensation to family of victims of plane crash.
" It is not proper to ask the operator of DANA Airline to pay anything less than 140, 000 dollars because that is the international standard and it is not allowed to be paid instalmentally. Aside from this amount, the family of victims of plane crash can sue the airline if they felt their loved ones worth more than amount fixed internationally.
On the procedure for the payment of compensation, Captain Daniel, who was an instructor at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Kaduna, said after identifying the next of kin of victims, the airline is expected to pay even before investigation on the cause of the plane crash is completed.