Parents lead calls for safety improvements after child dies on Dubai bus

A road safety expert said children should only be transported in school buses operated by trained staff

Parents have voiced their concerns after the death of Mohamed Farhan Faisal, 6, on a bus in Dubai. Courtesy Dubai Police
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Concerned parents have called for safety measures to be stepped up after a six-year-old boy died after being left on a bus in Dubai for hours in the summer heat.

Mohamed Farhan Faisal, 6, is believed to have suffocated on Saturday while on a bus hired by Al Manar Islamic Centre.

Aleah Mellet, a Filipino mother of a boy, 3, said the tragedy had left her fearful of sending her son to school on a bus.

"I was thinking of using the school bus starting September, but I heard about what happened and now I am scared and  thought maybe this is not a good idea," said Ms Mellett, a working mum based in Dubai who struggles to find the time to transport her child to nursery herself.

"My child goes to nursery but because he is still young someone picks him up," she said.

Ms Mellett said a mobile application or a watch or a tag that shows where the child is would make her feel more secure when letting her child board a bus.

"They are tiny humans who may fall asleep and slide under a chair. With the technology now, there is a watch which helps to show where the child is at any given time."

Another Dubai-based mother, of a four-year-old boy, said thorough searches should be conducted to ensure no child is left unattended on a bus.

"There must be procedures put in place for all schools and all bus companies to make sure such a horrible event does not happen again," she said.

"There should always be at least two adults on the bus who walk through the bus after the children have left, also looking underneath the seats, followed by recording it in a log book.

"Prior to that, once everyone is on board, the adults should have a list of all the children's names, checking who is on board and then crossing out the names as they get off, one by one. Those are solutions that don't cost much but can prevent such incidents."

Carla Julian, 39, a children’s yoga instructor and founder of Move On Yoga who has worked with children for about 15 years, echoed the safety plea.

"There has to be a health and safety policy implemented and thorough training provided to drivers and support staff and bus attendants," said Ms Julian

"This has to be enforced from a government level for companies to train their staff. These accidents cannot continue to happen. It is negligence."

Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE, said children should only be transported in official school buses, as they are better equipped than regular buses and operated by trained personnel.

"It should be mandatory by regulators to allow children only to be transported in school buses, bearing the safety of our children in mind," said Mr Edelmann.

"It should be the consideration of the authorities to mandate proper school buses whenever children are transported. There is a reason why we have school buses in place, which is to protect our children."

Many kindergartens or nurseries do not have their own buses and the expert believes the institutions should rent school buses for outings or events.

"The stakeholders and government entities all have to take responsibility. If a Quran school needs to transport children these people have to reflect on their responsibilities and they have to rent a school bus rather than any other bus which is not equipped or suitable for children."