Nepal | October 20, 2019

EDITORIAL: Compensate fairly

The government must see to it that the families of the victims get the maximum compensation and at the earliest

‘Loss of situational awareness of crew member’ has been established as the reason behind the fatal crash of the US-Bangla aircraft in Kathmandu in March last year. The Bombardier aircraft, carrying 67 passengers and four crew members, crashed on landing at Tribhuvan International Airport and burst into flames on March 12. Altogether 52 people died, including more than two dozen Nepalis. This is the worst aviation disaster involving a Bangladeshi airline and also the deadliest accident of a Canadian-made Bombardier. It’s baffling as to why it should have taken so long for the Accident Investigation Commission, formed to probe the crash, to present the findings to the government. The preliminary findings were already out a month after the accident, in April last year. According to the report, the Pilot in Command (PIC) was flying under stress and emotionally disturbed throughout the flight as a female colleague in the airline had questioned his reputation as a good instructor. There seemed to have been confusion while communicating between the pilot and the TIA control tower. Although initial clearance was to land on runway 02, the crew was approaching runway 20. After impact on the ground, the uncontrolled aircraft hurtled out of the runway and ploughed into a field outside the perimeter fence. All in all, it was nothing but pilot error that caused the crash, although the pilot had the experience of flying to Kathmandu dozens of times. The question is, why did the airline allow an emotionally stressed pilot, who was also tired from lack of sleep the preceding night, to make the trip?

Nepal has seen a number of deadly crashes involving international airlines, not to mention quite a number of smaller planes of domestic airlines, over the decades. The worst air crash was that of an Airbus belonging to Pakistan International Airlines that saw 167 dead after hitting a hill near Kathmandu in September 1992. Earlier that year in July, a Thai Airways had crashed while approaching Kathmandu airport, killing 113 people on board. The US-Bangla crash is the third worst air disaster to take place in Nepal. And in all of these fatal crashes, pilot error has been the single biggest cause.

Now that the investigation report of the US-Bangla air crash has been made public, the government must see to it that the families of the victims get the maximum compensation and at the earliest. There have been cases in the past when airlines and insurance companies have dilly-dallied in providing full compensation to the victims’ families. Nepal signed the Montreal Convention (Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air) only in December last year, under which the family of a crash victim is entitled to compensation of more than US$ 156,000, or more than Rs 15 million. However, the US-Bangla crash took place in March last year, so it is not known if the victims’ families will have to be content with the compensation as provided under the Warsaw Convention, which amounts to just US$ 20,000. Thus the government and its concerned bodies must step in so that the victims’ families are not cheated and get the maximum that they are entitled to.

Kids out of school

Education is a fundamental right of citizens enshrined in the new constitution. Basic education is especially important as it enables one to pursue knowledge, higher education and vocational training. Every year, the government launches a school enrollment campaign throughout the country, and most of the elected officials also support one or two kids from the disadvantaged communities to get an education.

However, all is not well when it comes to providing basic education to the children in the remote districts. A report from Jajarkot in Karnali Province has revealed a shocking fact that school-age children from four villages in remote Barekot Rural Municipality, namely Rimdara, Khalaka, Khutte, Dandakhani and Upper Laikham, are deprived of a basic education as there is no primary school in their locality which also does not have a health facility. The kids have to walk for about three hours to reach the nearest school, which for them is impossible to cover daily. The municipality must allocate the necessary budget to open a primary school for these children. Education is a basic requirement, which must now be fulfilled by the local level government.


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