The delegation, led by Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Transport, included Lieutenant General J.H. Smith (Rtd) , Minister of Defence, Mr Tackie Yarboi, Chief Director, Ministry of Transport, Rear Admiral M. Quashie, Acting Chief of Defence Staff, representatives of Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Ghana Airports Company Limited.
It was accompanied by the Managing Director of Allied Air Cargo, owners of the aircraft, Acting Nigerian High Commissioner in Ghana as well as representative of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
The Boeing 727-200, which had arrived from Lagos, overshot the runway, went through the airport perimeter fence and crashed into the 207 Benz bus on the 37 Military Hospital/Burma Camp road and killed the 10 people aboard.
Alhaji Dauda, addressing the four families, described the accident as a “Sad day for Ghana”, adding that, although government wished it had not happened, it was destined to happen.
He said President Mills was concerned about the families and had sent them to extend his and government’s condolences and sympathy.
“Everybody here is concerned about what has happened and want to share in your grief and we will be with you,” he said.
The delegation visited the family of George Osei, 33, driver of the bus.
Madam Kate Owusu Ababio, aunt of the deceased, said his death was a big blow to the family and that he had been driving the bus for a while and was known by most people in the neighbourhood.
Madam Ababio said she learnt of his death from the deceased’s brother, who called them after the accident to announce that his brother’s bus was the one that had been hit by the aircraft.
Mr Isaac Hlordzi, father of 19 year-old Kennedy, another victim, said his son was a final year student of the Nungua Senior High School who had taken exeat from school to collect some provisions from home.
He said Kennedy had earlier called his brother at Tema to inform him that he was coming home. They did not hear from him after that until someone called them from the 37 Military Hospital to invite them to identify him.
Another victim, Lance Corporal Castro Abuchow, was said to be on his way to duty at the residence of the Minister of Defence.
Although there was a vehicle that usually took them to their posts, Abuchow asked them to take the lead because he had to attend classes before reporting at his post.
Lt. Col. John Buntugu, Spokesperson for the family, said some workers at the 37 Military Hospital morgue used the deceased’s phone which was on him to call the contacts on the phone to inform them that ,“The owner of the phone was in the mortuary”.
The delegation visited the family of Gideon Ansah Kumi, a 19-year-old student of Harvard Senior High School, who was on his way home from Teshie.
Alhaji Dauda presented an undisclosed amount of money to each family on behalf of government to help them in their preparations and assured them that the government would support them throughout their ordeal.
Briefing the media later, Alhaji Dauda disagreed with viewpoints being expressed on the need to relocate Kotoka International Airport (KIA) because it was close to the city centre.
He said KIA was expanding day-by-day and there was the need to establish another airport in addition to KIA in Accra.
Alhaji Dauda said the government had identified a parcel of land around Prampram but had not yet gone through with the process of acquisition.
He said currently, a team of surveyors from the Survey Department was working on the land after which applications for conceptual design would be invited.
Alhaji Dauda, however, disagreed with the suggestion for a new airport in the wake of Saturday’s plane crash, because KIA was in the city, saying irrespective of the location of an airport, such crashes could be avoided if safety standards were strictly adhered to.
“Though I agree that we need another airport, I wouldn’t agree that it is the location that is calling for it, because other international airports are in city centres; Heathrow, JFK, Johannesburg. What is important is that we follow safety standards so we can prevent these crashes.”
Commenting on the encroachment of airport lands, Alhaji Dauda appealed to agencies for which government had acquired lands to endeavour to protect them from encroachment.
He criticised the attitude of those agencies which look on while developers build huge buildings on their lands.
“It doesn’t happen in a week or a month, sometimes it takes years, and the state agencies for whom it was acquired have the responsibility of protecting such lands.”
Alhaji Dauda said the Ministry and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources were continuing with the process which they initiated about two years ago to address the issue of encroachment.