x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Safety standards for Haj buses unveiled

Buses taking pilgrims to Haj this year will have to meet new standards to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims, and decrease mechanical problems.

DUBAI // Buses taking pilgrims to Haj this year will have to meet new standards to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims, and decrease mechanical problems.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will enforce the measures on all Dubai-registered buses belonging to travel companies.

Buses must now have wide, opening windows, fire extinguishers, baggage areas separate from seating, and first-aid kits large enough to treat all passengers.

They must also have front bumper tow rings and carry maintenance equipment.

Vehicles must be checked at Warsan Registration Centre and Tamam Al Kindy Vehicle Inspection Centre before leaving for Mecca.

The centres will check that buses are safe and comfortable enough for the long journey.

Those with steering wheels on the right hand side may be rejected.

“The RTA is always keen to offer world-class quality collective transport services for the sake of increasing safety and security for passengers, particularly those travelling to perform religions rituals in Mecca and Medina,” said Tariq Al Ghaith, the RTA’s acting director of monitoring.

Bu Mohammed, 45, an Emirati lawyer who has made several Haj trips, said having windows that opened could compromise the all-important air conditioning.

“If the window is openable passengers will want to open it and then the hot air will enter the bus,” said Mohammed.

“But in case of a fire or accident, it is better to have wide windows through which people can escape.”

He urged inspection centres to double check vehicles’ tyres and engines.

“We always pass by buses that have suffered a flat tyre and you see the passengers all scattered and sad,” Mohammed said.

hdajani@thenational.ae