x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE experts seek definition on minibus sizes after fatal crash

Experts called for clearer definitions on vehicle sizes yesterday after a fatal crash in Fujairah at the weekend involving a minibus that may have been overloaded.

DUBAI // Experts called for clearer definitions on vehicle sizes yesterday after a fatal crash at the weekend involving a minibus that may have been overloaded.

Three people died and 16 were injured when the vehicle carrying staff from a cleaning company flipped in Fujairah on Saturday.

The Bangladeshi driver and a Sri Lankan man and woman died.

Under federal law some types of buses cannot carry more than 16 passengers.

But transport experts said the law was not often applied because of the difficulty in clarifying exactly what a minibus was.

"You'd need to go back into the definition of what a small bus is and what a large bus is," said Simon Labbett, regional director for the Transport Research Laboratory.

"There is currently no definition on what a minibus is. That's why we need better clarification and better guidance on the definitions of the vehicle classes.

"If you don't define what a minibus is and it doesn't fit into the current classifications, it's very difficult to regulate it. I know there's a team in Abu Dhabi who are looking at legislation and this is fundamental in order to put vehicles into the right boxes."

In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority has called for schools to stop using minibuses from this year, after 30 minibus accidents in the first half of this year left two dead and 63 injured.

School transport is generally outsourced to bus companies in Dubai and costs between Dh600 and Dh1,000 a month for each pupil.

Minibuses are common at schools where few children are picked up along a single route.

The RTA said operators would be given time to replace their minibuses with 22-seat vehicles, and have asked for feedback.

The victims of Saturday's accident were employees of Al Shamaleyah, a cleaning company in Khor Fakkan on the east coast of Sharjah.

"We are all sad and shocked," said Hamada Ibrahim, a manager at the company.

"What can we do? Nobody knows what is going to happen, it is for Allah to control.

"We will send the bodies back to their countries, but we need to get permission from the police, court and the embassies.

"It should all be finished by next week."

mcroucher@thenational.ae