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28.08.2004 Feature Article

Ghana Airways Manager Assaults Innocent Passenger

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God be my witness that I will never fly Ghana Airways again in my life. If it were the last and only plane in the world to take me to Ghana, then I'm afraid that I will never set foot on the Motherland again.

My trip from London, Heathrow to Ghana Kotoka Airport started off badly from the start. Being a full time student, anyone will know that being able to purchase a ticket to Ghana does not come easy or cheap at all. One of the reasons I flew Ghana Airways was sheer patriotism. Of course the extra weight allowance played no small part. It's a good thing I packed a few extras, in the end, as my return trip was delayed by more than a week. The flight to Accra from London was delayed by a day. After spending a whole day at the airport, and actually boarding the plane, we were ordered to disembark after a few minutes, and were shepherded to a local hotel, with no arrangements made to for food, so I went to bed on an empty stomach. We flew to Ghana the following morning, but made a stop in Rome, only to see our luggage being taken off at Rome and the Rome passengers luggage put on,. After my uncle adamantly demanded it to be put back on we continued a smooth flight to Ghana.

I was supposed to return to London on the 8th August. I had to return to work on the 11th. I rang in the morning to confirm whether we would fly or not and was told that we would fly. So off to the airport we went with our luggage and a baby only 11months old. There at the airport I saw chaos before my eyes, as I realised hundreds more passengers had been stranded, and were arguing, with the airport staff. The staff informed us that due to delays we would not fly. We had to return home and phone the following morning. I was angry, but what could I do but to obey. This happened for 7days consecutively, coming to the airport at 4.30 in the morning, hanging on there, and leaving at 10.20 p.m. to go back home – everyday for seven days. After a while the truth Ghana Airways was hiding from us came out, that there was actually no plane to fly us. We also found out that there were perhaps a few thousands more in the same situation. Empty promises and guarantees were given like: 'if we do not fly to day we will definitely fly tomorrow', 'there seems to be a bit of problems but I can guarantee you that we will fly tomorrow…the situation at the moment is……….. Please just wait over there and we will inform you later.'

Through my daily visits to the airport, I got speaking to three heads of department for Ghana Airways, Mr Richard Kyere (duty Officer), who refused to give me his name (got it in the end though, didn't I?) Could it be that he was afraid that I would lodge a complaint against him? This ignorant and callous man seemed to have a problem with accepting the fact that what Ghana Airways was doing was totally and completely wrong. My human rights were violated, by committing no crime yet being held not of my free will in another country, with no care about how I would survive, and under no way was I to stay in one of their, 'mosquito infested hotels' that they were offering. One would think that when we were compensated a measly 100,000 cedis, it was from his own pockets.

Then there was Mr Emmanuel Woanan, (senior manager) (Obviously spelt wrong, I had to investigate names for myself) this man ended up being the most decent of the three. He was not extremely helpful, but at least showed me slight respect. Lastly came the Devil himself, Mr 'Humphrey Darko.' To these men, looking younger than I actually am, and having a British accent, meant that I really was in no position to ask them questions regarding my flight, and under no circumstance should I be angry, but rather remain a passive, foolish and accepting of their mishandling of me. The fact that I was due back to work by a certain date, was a joke to him.

Mr Humphrey Darko's definition of 'Cancellation' and 'Delays' was totally warped. He saw three days of not flying was a mere delay. In my eyes, after a few hours it is a cancellation. Finally on the seventh day, we actually made it to the boarding gate. This time we were to fly back with Zimbabwe Airways. Again, Mr Richard Kyere, with his best impression of sincerity and compassion, guaranteed we would fly on the day. 'Yes ma'am, the plane will arrive in 30 minutes. Indeed it did but due to unsettled negotiations with Zimbabwe Airlines, we were rescheduled to fly the next morning

Tempers Soar An unlucky Ghanaian woman of no importance, (the reason why I haven't written her name), must have been the colleague to pull the short straw. It fell to her to explain the situation to us. 'The current situation is…….' I had heard this story and pathetic excuse so many a times. Her voice was deafened by the irate passengers. The Devil himself, 'Mr Humphrey Darko, also came to explain the situation. He was so blasé about the whole situation; he pushed past a passenger who was not at all impressed and didn't apologise. He then walked off, I was talking to him but as he knows me as 'the irritating school girl, who has no place asking any questions, he walked off.' I followed him, and demanded clear answers as by now we had heard so many confusing stories. He refused to listen. I tapped him on his back stating, 'next time make sure you give people the right information.' For no reason, he turned around and 'PUNCHED ME IN MY JAW' I was completely in shock which turned to tears and anger. He then advanced to beat me up some more, so I fought back, to be held back by about six, smelly security guards, one of whom snatched my mobile phone out of my hands, and is now consequently lost.

This happened in front of passengers and security guards, but noting was done. Mr Emmanuel Woananl apologised on his behalf, but this was not acceptable. My jaw was locked, and during the course of the night started to swell. I also went to report the incident to the police station at the airport, but the officer I met was not interested. When I asked for his name he refused.

Being a Ghanaian, born in London and raised in London, I thought going back home to the Motherland would be a experience never to be forgotten, and that it was. Ghana Airways collected our money and took us to Accra, knowing fully well that they had several hundreds of people in Ghana already who had been stranded. It is a bit like trading while insolvent, which is an offence under law. Certainly, the roguish attitude and behaviour of people like Mr. Humphrey Darko does the airline no good.

Writing this piece does not begin to explain the anger, distress and pain I endured. I went to my Motherland in hope and great expectation, and came back bruised and battered, physically and emotionally. Are the Ghana Airways staff not accountable to anybody? I tend to wonder.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Joana -Jehu-Appiah
Joana -Jehu-Appiah, © 2004

The author has 1 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JoanaJehuAppiah

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