x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Action sought against owners of UAE crash bus

Salem Al Mamari, head of the Emirates Human Rights Association, said it was wrong for labourers to have to travel long distances from their accommodation to their workplace.

DUBAI // The labour-supply group that owns the bus that crashed into a lorry at the weekend, killing 13 of its employees, should be held accountable, the Emirates Human Rights Association said on Monday.

After a visit to four of the surviving labourers at Rashid Hospital on Sunday, Salem Al Mamari, head of the society’s labour committee, said: “I was shocked to hear from the labourers that their accommodation was more than an hour away from their workplace.

“They leave at 5.20am for work every day of the week and return to their labour camp a little before 10pm. This is unacceptable. The workers are exhausted.

“The labourers work for 10 hours – the official eight hours and an additional two overtime which they get compensated for. They assured me that this was voluntary but said it was the long ride to and from work that they find exhausting.”

The bus was carrying 28 workers from the labour camp in Umm Al Quwain to their workplace in Jebel Ali. It hit the back of a stationary lorry on Emirates Road on Saturday morning.

The deputy director of Dubai Police, Major General Mohammed Al Zafeen, said in an interview with an Arabic daily newspaper that the driver was probably asleep at the time of the accident.

“This is only natural if you are up at 5am every day and back from work at 10pm,” said Mr Al Mamari.

“The society will make recommendations that all companies have their labour camps near the work sites.”

He also said drivers of large vehicles should undergo regular medical tests to make sure they are fit to drive.

“They should also choose their drivers carefully and hire those within a reasonable age range. From the ages of 25 to 45 but not over 50 years old,” he said.

Jamila Al Hamli, secretary general and board member of the society, said: “The company chose the cheapest option by having their labour camp in Umm Al Quwain. They are saving money but leaving their workers exhausted. This is not fair and a practice that we have seen from many large contracting companies. It must be stopped.”

Four of the workers from Bangladesh remain in hospital but are said to be in a stable condition.

“One of the workers will be released over the next few days while another remains in a coma in intensive care.

“The other two have various fractures but are stable,” said Mr Al Mamari.

“Rashid Hospital is providing for them and they are constantly monitored by the medical team . We are very pleased with the medical attention they are receiving.”

The labourers worked as technicians, welders and fabricators.

salnuwais@thenational.ae