6:30am: Left a friend’s house for the airport
7:15am: Arrived at the airport and collected my boarding pass and proceeded to clear immigration
7:23am: A boarding call for Accra to Lagos on Aero Contractor flight
7:45am: Flight fully boarded and waiting for take off (7:55am departure time)
7:55am: Engaged flight attendant on why take off has not been announced and was told they were waiting for some documentation.
8:05am: Pilot announces all passengers to disembark due to a flat tire.
8:35am: We are told a replacement tire has been requested from Lag and will be accompanied by two engineers on Air Nigeria flight to arrive 10am. When we asked why they couldn’t engage a local KLM engineers, we were told it is Aero Airline’s policy not to use any other engineers but Aero’s.
11am: Aero Station Manager informs that Air Nigeria flight was delayed in Lagos due to Aviation Fuel issues.
12:15pm: Air Nigeria flight arrives Accra with two spare tires and two engineers
2:55pm: A boarding call for Accra – Lagos on Aero Contractor flight
3:20pm: Flight taxis for takes off (I could hear the combined sound of churning tummies)
5:02pm: Flight arrives Lagos
5:15pm: Booked a new 7pm flight on Aero to Abuja since I missed my connecting flight earlier in the day.
7:00pm: Announcement of 50mins delay on Abuja flight
7:50pm: Mute***Sleeping***gazing**reading**no further announcement
8:38pm: A boarding call for Lagos – Abuja on Aero Contractor
9:00pm: Take off.
10:08pm: Landed in Abuja. Harold Demuren, DG of NCAA was inspecting things on the tarmac as we disembarked
10:18pm: Boarded a taxi home
After we had returned to the boarding gate, and endured a false call for boarding about 30 mins later, I decided to take a walk closer to the glass partition separating boarding gates 3 and 4. I was struck by who I saw on the the other side (Gate 3). My friend Mohammed Mijindadi, was at Gate 3 waiting to board the delayed Arik flight from Accra to Monrovia. Equally amazed to see me so far away from Abuja, where we both live, we made our way to meet at the waiting area and exchanged sober pleasantries. Sober because he had just lost nine 9 family members in the Dana Airline crash a fortnight ago; his sister and her husband, their four kids, his mum, and two cousins. I looked at him intensely, he stared back and just smiled. I was speechless and we just hugged and let the heart talk.
Why would I see Mohammed at a time as this, when we just escaped being carried in a similar vehicle going somewhere to crash. I could read all kinds of meaning into this spooky encounter, but I hold my peace and determine that I will not be silent about the state of transportation in Nigeria. Nigerians simply have to become empowered citizens. It was a passenger who noticed the flat tire and complained, if not we would have been consigned to a highly risky flight. we cannot afford to be negligent any more or having an anything-goes attitude. We must ensure that vehicles we board, whether it is air, land, water, or supernatural transport , we must ask questions if we notice anything or feel uncomfortable with the state of the vehicle.
By the time we were boarding the flight again, everyone had become airline inspectors, looking to be sure that the tires were properly screwed in . I tell you I sat in a plane full of empowered Nigerians. Everyone seemingly had a clear resolve to become more sensitive to issues of airline safety.
The Downside? - Watsed a whole day and missed two important meetings and got my money stuck with Air Nigeria for a connecting flight I missed.
The upside? – I met REALLY awesome people and learnt a lot conversing with them. Nigerians never slack you know. Our very countenance ensured we got plantain chips and canned drinks to spice the hot topics being discussed