In most developed countries, airports are built far away from towns to reduce the level of noise pollution on the people and also to avoid cases of landing and take-off planes crashing into people’s homes.
Even people who live along the flight paths, the impact of the noise pollution on them are always minimal based on distance and location. But here in Nigeria, the case is totally different as people now live very close to the airports. Sometimes a plane approaching to land will look as if it is going to land on people’s houses, not only that, with the noisy kind of aircraft used by most airlines here, total deafness or partial hard-of-hearing among some residents of these places may not be ruled out.
For those living around the air routes in Lagos, places like Iju Ishaga, Mafoluku, Mangoro in Ikeja and some parts of Ejigbo near the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, life can be a sort of hell due to the deafening noise of the aircraft, danger of aircraft over shooting the run way and crashing into their houses, air crashes among others.
The experience of the Dana Air crash in Iju Ishaga area of the state cannot be forgotten in a hurry where some people were killed while relaxing in their houses, some landlords became homeless as a result of that accident, including some children today who are orphans on account of that crash.
Psychologically, people who live along air routes are traumatised, especially when an aircraft is coming so close to their buildings, some of them sometimes are the first to raise false alarm that a plane is about to crash, this may not be unconnected with the saying that one beaten twice shy, because of some experiences in Iju Ishaga in Lagos, Kano and other places in the country where people live close to the airport or along the flight path.
According to aviation experts, the Murtala Mohammed airport Lagos was because of some of these reason built far away from town in 1978, but today, rapid urbanisation has taken place in Lagos that cities are now encroaching close to the airport.
According to him, even where people are not supposed to build houses, they are now building their houses, with the Omo oniles even selling government land to people to build houses; and here enforcement on ban on people building on government land close to the airport has been too difficult.
Speaking with Friday Magazine on the plight of people who live along the air routes, Olu Ajakaiye, a resident of Mafoluku, stated that the deafening noise alone coming from some of the aircraft are unbearable, especially from those noisy types.
When the planes are taking off and landing, it puts people is some sort of dilemma on whether the take off was successful or not, because some will look as if they are coming down close to the roof of the house, while some other will look as if they are hanging.
When there is VIP movement around the airport, the situation is worsened as sometimes people are afraid seeing plane hovering around without land, believing that maybe the plane has developed fault and may crash and as they hover at close range the noise is more intense.
Speaking also, Mrs. Shade Olufemi who is a nursing mother explained that the noise alone is nauseating to her, because if her baby is asleep and the noisy aircraft are taking off, or landing, they will wake his son up and he will start crying.
For a nursing mother living close to the airport route is not a good idea because the noise sometimes wakes your children up and when they wake up, the find it difficult to sleep again, she said
“Sometimes with their noise alone, It looks as if the heaven want to fall and this huge noise pollution had an adverse effect on people health, people suffering from High Blood Pressure will doing themselves more harm living along the air route”, Mrs Olufemi explained.
To the tenants who live along the air routes, they have an option of move out of such areas because of the noise pollution, but for the landlords, they have no place to run to, said Kassim Ayinde, a land lord in Mafoluku.
“We have not stopped suffering the issue of noise pollution associated with generators, not to talk about that of aircraft which can be deafening and dangerous to health.
“Not only that, look at what happened in Iju Ishaga where some children lost their parents in a twinkle of on an eye, only to become helpless orphans. Somebody suffering high blood pressure, wouldn’t this place worsen his health condition, he asked.”
Mr. Ayinde said that there are even some damages the constant vibration of moving aircraft that fly over these places cause to the building along the flight route, like cracks to the walls and others adverse effects.
For Emeka, living along the air routes most times can be more challenging, “because if the plane is passing you will not hear anything unless the plane passed, if you are answering call and a noisy plane is taking off here, you will not hear what the caller is saying unless the plane goes far.
“For me who uses a Go TV, immediately the plane flies past, there will be momentary loss of signal until the plane goes a little distance, then the signal will now come. Some times during the world cup, I was watching a match in the night in one of sports select channels and a plane passed, there was momentary loss of signal and when the signal came back some few minutes later, a goal had been scored. I was watching a live match but did not kinow when a goal was scored.”
He explained further that, “it’s not only football, even when you are watching other things like important news and a plane is passing the television will go blank in blue colour until the aircraft passes.”
Even the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA has issued some guidelines, warning against the building of high rise buildings or location of telecommunication masts and other structures that could disrupt the flight plan.
The regulatory agency not too long ago threatened to pull down some of the structures and masts along flight routes, so as to safeguard their air space.
To many Lagosians who live along the air route, the dangers, discomfort and other attendant consequences call for a serious concern especially as it concerns the health and psyche of residents of these places.
Despite the dangers and discomfort, people are now encroaching closer to the airport as the road to the airport is always congested with people now living so close to the airport, not minding its adverse effects on their lives.