Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 April 2020

Fatal crash in Dubai prompts renewed call for ban on 'sardine-like' minibuses

Police officials say minibuses are 'not fit to transport people'

The minibus was partially crushed when it hit a stationary lorry on the hard shoulder of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road on Monday. Dubai Police
The minibus was partially crushed when it hit a stationary lorry on the hard shoulder of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road on Monday. Dubai Police

A fatal crash involving a minibus in Dubai on Monday has prompted renewed calls for the immediate ban of the vehicles from the UAE's roads.

The crash, in which eight labourers died while travelling to work, was probably the result of poor driving and safety precautions, police said.

Just before 5am, the minibus carrying 14 people hit a heavy goods vehicle parked on the hard shoulder of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road, near City Centre Mirdif mall.

The driver and seven passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. Six survivors were taken to hospital.

In response, a senior official at Dubai Police called for an immediate nationwide ban on minibuses.

[Minibuses] are not fit for human transportation

Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, Federal Traffic Council

“I have been making this plea for many years now,” said Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, assistant commander-in-chief and chairman of the Federal Traffic Council.

“These minibuses are more like sardine cans and are exposed to traffic disasters all the time because they lack the most basic security and safety standards,” he said.

“They are unsafe and it is truly sad to repeat this warning every time a horrific accident like Monday’s crash happens.”

He said the buses did not adequately protect passengers, as they lacked a front crumple zone.

Brig Saif Al Mazroui, general traffic department director at Dubai Police, agreed, saying “accidents involving trucks or vans often lead to catastrophic outcomes”.

Photos of the heavily damaged minibus showed the full impact of the crash, suggesting the vehicle was travelling at speed.

Minibuses
Minibuses

Khalifa bin Drai, executive director of Dubai Ambulance Service, said the critically injured passengers were taken to Rashid Hospital’s trauma centre. Of the eight dead, seven were Indians.

India's consul general, Vipul, posted a message of support for those recovering in hospital on social media.

"We are sad to inform that seven Indians have passed away in a horrific bus accident in Dubai," he said.

"Consulate officials are at Rashid Hospital to assist."

Brig Al Mazroui said Monday's crash was the latest in a series of minibus accidents this year that killed passengers or left survivors with life-changing injuries.

In July, three people died and eight were injured when a minibus hit a lorry on Emirates Road, heading towards Sharjah.

Police said similar minivans have been connected to 34 other accidents in Dubai over the past eight months, killing one person and injuring 34 more.

According to police, during the same period last year, vans and trucks caused 35 accidents.

Ambulance officials at the scene in Mirdif on Monday said speeding, lack of attention and use of mobile phones at the wheel are a major cause of accidents.

“Dubai Ambulance Service is dealing with these reports extremely seriously,” said Faris Al Bardan, director of the Deira ambulance division.

“As soon as we were alerted to this major incident, five ambulances were dispatched to the scene, accompanied by an intensive care medic.”

Col Faisal Al Qasim, director of security media at Dubai Police, said an investigation was under way.

"Motorists should respect speed limits, avoid distractions and use indicators when changing lanes," he said.

Road safety experts have repeatedly called for tighter regulations and greater penalties for those flouting seat-belt laws to prevent deaths in minibus crashes.

In 2016, a Toyota minibus similar to the one involved in the crash on Monday morning also hit a parked lorry, killing seven and injuring 13.

Human error was cited by police as the major contributing factor.

The Federal Transport Council has recommended that minibuses carry goods and not people.

“The recommendation submitted to the Federal National Council calls for banning minibuses from transporting private schools pupils starting from 2021 and adult passengers from 2023,” said Maj Gen Al Zafeen.

“They are not fit for human transportation.”

The Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai has also called for improvements to minibus safety.

Updated: October 1, 2019 07:18 PM

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