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WHAT would have been another air disaster in the aviation sector in Nigeria was on Saturday afternoon averted as the ARIK aircraft with registration number 5N-MJE developed fault at take off at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport Calabar, Cross River State.
The flight which was scheduled for take- off to Abuja at 11 am with about 100 passengers on board eventually made several efforts to take off at about 2 pm but could not as the sensor of the aircraft was said to have developed fault.
The aircraft officials refused to give information on the aborted flight but irate passengers told Vanguard that they were subjected to suffering and uncertainty as no one was ready to provide them with details about the nature of fault and when the flight would take off or an alternative flight would be provided.
One of the passengers of the aircraft and Head of Department, Political Science of University of Calabar, Dr Felix Akpan said the Arik officials were insensitive and inhuman.
He said, “I suspect the flight had developed problem before it came here and I also suspect the aircraft only managed to land that was why it took them so long to ask us to board.”
According to him, the passengers waited for several hours before they were asked to board and that “certainly means that they had something they did not want us to know thank God for the pilot who is a white man if he were a black man for fear of losing his job he would have attempted to fly then take the aircraft and crash somewhere and kill us.”
Dr Akpan said he would not board the aircraft even after the engineers of the company “come here and fix the problem as we are being told.”
Another passenger, Engineer Nicholas Agumuo said they had all boarded and were waiting for the aircraft to take off but “the aircraft remained stationery and later the door was opened and the ladder was brought back and one of the passengers had to alight and we followed him.”
A passenger who said she was going to Abuja to catch a flight to London, Madam Okon said she would sue Arik if they failed to make refunds to her and make arrangement for her to get to London.
“I cannot believe it that these people can keep us here for several hours without food or refreshment. Else where they would have given us some refreshment because this is not our fault.”
Sam Bassey, an estate surveyor who led the protest to Arik office after waiting for so long without information from Arik officials said “One person will tell us one thing and another will, tell us another thing which is all lies.”
He accuse the Arik officials of insensitivity and lack of interest in the welfare of their passengers.
“This is past five and I have been here since 9am if I had taken road I would be reaching at Abuja by now. “
The Arik Manager when persuaded to explain what happened refused to disclose his name said it was against the company’s rules to disclose information to non officials of the company.