x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emirati Life: A safe, secure environment is imperative

Far too often, I am confronted with underqualified and insufficiently trained staff operating and monitoring potentially dangerous equipment in conditions that indicate a lack of regular maintenance.

Tragedy struck an Emirati family last Thursday when a father of seven was hit in the head by a metal rod that fell from a Ferris wheel in Dubai's Global Village.

The man, who had been walking next to his cousin, died instantly, leaving behind three sons, four daughters, a pregnant wife and a community in shock.

The fact that anyone could have fallen victim to this horrific accident made it hit closer to home for many, including myself.

I had, in fact, driven past the fair the morning of the accident, when my friend mentioned a visit to the Yemeni pavilion could prove fruitful in my quest for world-class honey. I could have never imagined this apparent place of joy would be the sight of such a needless disaster a short 12 hours later.

Speaking to family and friends of the Ras Al Khaimah native, I learnt that there were sadder details to the tragedy. I was informed that two men claimed to have alerted the amusement ride's operator to the loose piece of machinery a few hours earlier and, apparently, nothing was done about it.

Thankfully, the authorities took swift action, arresting the owner, operator and engineer of the ride the same day, and began an investigation into the event.

However, knowing the accident could have been possibly avoided has me thinking of how many other potential hazards are out there due to negligence.

This concern is not born out of a lack of rules and regulations in our society. The UAE Government has come a long way in assuring safety and security is a priority for all its residents by creating and updating laws and standards that address current and potential hazards.

But as the FNC member Faisal Al Tunaiji (Ras Al Khaimah), who recently consoled the grieving family, mentioned to me, there must be more implementation of the government's regulations.

Far too often, I am confronted with underqualified and insufficiently trained staff operating and monitoring potentially dangerous equipment in conditions that indicate a lack of regular maintenance or a management that disregards stipulated guidelines and policy.

Granted, with the nation's rapid development, it is no easy task to keep producing new policies that ensure a safe and secure environment, let alone enforce them.

But if imposing the existing parameters and fining those who do not adhere to them can create a safer environment, then it is imperative this is given the attention it deserves.

This is not to say the onus should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the authorities. Companies also have a duty to their employees and customers to guarantee their well-being is placed first and foremost.

Making certain their equipment and facilities are in good working order and well maintained, and that their staff is trained, should be part of every establishment's fabric.

Both public and private spheres must champion safety and security above all else so that fun nights out do not turn into heartbreaking nights to forget.

Thamer Al Subaihi is a reporter at The National and a returning Emirati who grew up largely in the US

tsubaihi@thenational.ae