x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Urban hazards are unnecessary risk

Urban hazards are unnecessary risk. A tourist in the UAE, Ms Bogdan saw the scene of a tragedy, the bridge where Elliot Lintott, 27, fell to his death on Friday.

'There is nothing there to mark the danger," said Irina Ivanova Bogdan, referring to a bridge in Dubai Marina. "The Government needs to block it so this doesn't happen to anyone else." A tourist in the UAE, Ms Bogdan saw the scene of a tragedy - the bridge where Elliot Lintott, 27, fell to his death on Friday.

On his way home that night, Mr Lintott's journey had taken a wrong turn, which is easy enough to do in a fast-changing city. But walking on an unfinished, unmarked bridge between the Grosvenor House and Habtoor Grand hotels, he fell five metres to his death. Tributes began pouring in from those who knew him, including staff at Abu Dhabi Media, the parent company of The National, where he had worked.

It was a personal tragedy that was compounded because it was so obviously avoidable. Too many people have been killed or injured on the nation's newly built roads and causeways. It is not just this bridge to nowhere in Dubai that exemplifies an unnecessary hazard.

Most people will be familiar with the sights that are oddly incongruous with the modern infrastructure: exposed electrical wires hanging from buildings near where young children play; ill-conceived pedestrian diversions that force people out into traffic near road projects; potholes, uncovered manholes and broken paving stones that are accidents waiting to happen. Some of these problems are common to most cities, but when they pose a safety hazard, there is no room for complacency.

The first line of responsibility is obviously the construction company concerned. Public safety should be a consideration before any project gets off the ground. But after that, health and safety oversight of construction and maintenance projects is essential.

There has been a renewed effort, including the Regulation and Supervision Bureau in Abu Dhabi, to license and monitor contractors who are in charge of public works. Nationwide, unified health and safety codes under the responsibility of a single authority might be the answer.

Simple measures could go a long way here: clear signage, railings or basic pedestrian barriers could keep people from straying into the danger zone. Thorough inspections that leave no stone unturned, and punished careless offenders, are obviously needed.

Since the weekend, Mr Lintott's friends and family have been grieving his untimely death. Need we another reminder on public safety?