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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Police concerned over construction workers' buses after series of accidents in Dubai

Some vehicles not fitted with seat belts while in others workers fail to buckle up

Senior police officers are concerned at a series of accidents involving buses transporting labourers and said companies must ensure seat belts are fitted - and that workers are using them.

Mandatory seat belt rules came into effect last month but it is unclear how many of the often ageing, rickety-vehicles are up to modern standards.

The long-campaigned-for introduction of the new laws has placed the spotlight on seat belt safety among families.

Officers said the standards should be no different for workers.

“There should be seat belts on all labour transports. Any vehicle being registered with the traffic department is being examined and the installation of seat belts in every seat is among the most important features," said Major General Anas Al Matroushi, director of the transport and rescue department at Dubai Police.

“Similarly, several campaigns aimed at labourers have been launched to underline the importance of seat belt use.

"I have seen many incidents when a driver or a passenger not wearing seat belt was thrown from the vehicle due to the impact of car crash."

On Sunday evening, seven construction workers were injured when a pick-up truck slammed into their bus on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road in Dubai, with both vehicles overturning. Officers said seat belts were not fitted in the bus.

Last Wednesday, a 27-seater bus carrying labourers burst into flames near Dubai Internet City. The driver had moments earlier sensed something was wrong and quickly pulled over and ushered the workers out of the vehicle. The incident raised broader concerns about the quality of vehicles being used.

Another accident in May saw one worker die and others treated for injuries after a bus carrying 10 passengers crashed near Dubai's Al Quoz industrial area. Thirteen others were hurt in an accident on Dubai's Second Zabeel Road when their mini bus rammed into tree in June.

An Egyptian contractor, Hassan Alaa, 27, said he is concerned about the state of some of the vehicles he is driven to work in.

“I work in a contracting company and we ride the bus offered by the company. I never thought about the importance of seat belts and road safety measure until I saw a group of labourers involved in a traffic accident in Ras Al Khor Road," he said.

“I heard that many died. After the incident, I realised that our own bus didn't have belts on any of the seats. I told the bus driver and he said he would contact the manager about."

Another worker, Rajeev Khan, who works at a construction site in Dubai, said he was more worried about the way the vehicle is driven.

“The only thing that worries me the most is the bus driver - he drives so fast," said the Indian national.

“We all become so worried when he drives so fast and some ask him to slow down. Others just sleep or mind their own business and put up with it.”

Adel Al Marzouqi, from the Roads and Transport Authority, said that vehicles owned by construction companies are frequently inspected to spot faults.

Inspectors last year handed out more than 2,200 fines to operators of heavy goods vehicles and labour transports for breaching a broad range of regulations.

“Inspectors from the RTA continuously carry out inspection on vehicles and trucks transporting labourers," he said.

“A campaign that we are carrying at the moment also targets heavy vehicle drivers and vehicles transporting labourers."