x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

One year on, families of those killed in UAE’s deadliest crash still await compensation

Twenty-one people were killed when a lorry ploughed into the back of a bus on February 2013. A year later, their families have yet to receive the money promised them.

Twenty one people died when a lorry ploughed into the back of a bus carrying 45 workers on the E30 old truck road beside the Al Rawda Palace on the outskirts of Al Ain. Courtesy Al Ain Police
Twenty one people died when a lorry ploughed into the back of a bus carrying 45 workers on the E30 old truck road beside the Al Rawda Palace on the outskirts of Al Ain. Courtesy Al Ain Police

ABU DHABI // Exactly a year on since the UAE’s deadliest road accident, the families of those killed say they are still waiting for compensation and are still trying to rebuild their shattered lives.

Mohammed Ali, 61, lost two sons – Khursheedul Alam, 25, and Masoodul Alam Rana, 19 – in the accident.

The Al Ain Court of First Instance ruled last June that the lorry driver was responsible and ordered his company to pay Dh200,000 compensation to each of the families.

But Mr Ali, who has lived in Al Ain for more than 30 years, said: “No money has reached me so far.”

Mr Ali, from Bangladesh, said he was forced to stay in work despite old age and ailing health because of the compensation delay.

Twenty one people – 19 Bangladeshis, an Indian and an Egyptian – died when a lorry ploughed into the back of a bus carrying 45 workers on the E30 old truck road beside the Al Rawda Palace on the outskirts of Al Ain.

Mr Ali, a caretaker on a cattle farm who earns Dh700 a month, said: “If my sons had been alive, I wouldn’t have to work at my age. Now I am the only bread winner for my family.

“Once I get the money I can go back home and start a business to support my family there.”

Latiful Haq Kazmi, labour counsellor at the Bangladeshi embassy in Abu Dhabi, said on Sunday that it had now filed 15 cases to the Al Ain courts after receiving authorisation from the families, while four Bangladeshis had filed separate cases.

“The verdict is the same for all who died. Now we are waiting for that insurance company to deposit the money to the court so that we can receive it,” Mr Kazmi said.

The Government had also pledged a year’s salary to all the families of those who died, but this had also not been received, he said.

“They are poor families and their condition is miserable,” Mr Kazmi said, adding that the embassy could also approach the UAE authorities if things reached an impasse.

The families of the victims say they are very concerned as they do not have any source of income, while relatives in the UAE are overburdened.

Mohammed Kamal, who lost his brother-in-law, Mohammed Hashim, 45, in the crash, was one of the Bangladeshis who filed a separate case to the Al Ain courts because of the delays.

After the Appeals Court upheld the decision last year, Mr Kamal still did not receive any money so he took out a case of his own.

“I filed the case on behalf of my sister, who lost her husband, to get the money as she is going through very hard times,” he said.

Hashim is survived by five children – four girls and one son – between the ages of four and 12 and his wife, who does not have any source of income and is totally dependent on relatives and well-wishers.

“The agony of losing the bread winner can’t be described in words. Others can only extend support but she can’t lead her entire life on the mercy of others. She has big responsibilities ahead about children’s education and their marriages. Then who would help and for how long?” Mr Kamal asked.

“I have spent Dh15,000, including Dh11,000 for court fees. Meanwhile, the court will pronounce its judgement on February 17.”

It is not yet known when the 15 cases taken by the embassy will be heard.

Mohammed Hannan lost his 27-year-old brother in the crash. He said the financial burden was severe and was waiting to see if the case taken by the embassy would succeed.

“We both work here to finance my family’s expenses back home but since I lost my brother in last year’s incident I have to carry the entire burden with a paltry salary of Dh1,200 a month,” said Mr Hannan, who has lived in the UAE for four years. “The compensation money can be a great help for us to start a business back home and feed my family.”

anwar@thenational.ae