Two years of financial hardship for bus crash victims’ families

The Bangladeshi embassy has been fighting a case on behalf of 16 of the 21 victims’ families and hoped to claim Dh3.2 million by next month – but the claims have been bogged down by legal complications.

Mohammed Arman Ullah Chowdhury, the labour counsellor at the Bangladeshi embassy, remains hopeful. Silvia Razgova / The National
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ABU DHABI // Most of the families of those killed in the 2013 road crash in Al Ain are still waiting for compensation.

On February 4 that year, 45 men were travelling in a bus that collided with a lorry, killing 21 workers.

The Bangladeshi embassy has been fighting a case on behalf of 16 of the 21 victims’ families and hoped to claim Dh3.2 million by next month – but the claims have been bogged down by legal complications.

Nineteen of the dead were from Bangladesh, one was from India and one from Egypt.

The delays seem to have arisen due to the number of parties involved in the case, including the employers of the deceased, the driver of the lorry, his company and the insurance company.

To add to their woes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which vowed to pay the families the equivalent of the victims’ one year’s salary, has yet to do so.

The ministry declined to comment.

Five of the families chose to purse their compensation claims personally, and two have been successful.

Mohammed Ali, 62, lost two sons – Khursheedul Alam, 25, and Masoodul Alam Rana, 19 – in the accident and received blood money last year.

Mohammed Kamal, who lost his brother-in-law, Mohammed Hashim, 45, received a payment through the Al Ain courts last week.

Mr Kamal was very thankful on getting the blood money, despite the two-year wait.

“Just one week back we got the compensation money from the court, which amounted to Dh250,000,” he said.

Mr Kamal said he received Dh200,000 in blood money and Dh50,000 for court and lawyers’ fees.

“After paying all liabilities there is Dh219,000 left for the victim’s wife,” he said.

It was not clear where the funds had been recovered from, as the court collected the compensation money, then chose how it was distributed.

Hashim is survived by four daughters and a son between the ages of five and 13, and his wife, who does not have any source of income and was totally dependent on relatives and well-wishers.

“Now we will send this money to the family so that they can support their lives. Some portion will be deposited in the bank for the children when they grow up.”

“I have been supporting them for the past two years,” Mr Kamal said, who has lived in the UAE for 35 years.

Those relying on the Bangladeshi embassy have yet to receive any compensation.

“Now I am very burdened by the financial expenses of my family. Before we were both earning, but now I have to send them from my salary,” said Mohammed Hannan, who lost his 27-year-old brother in the crash.

“I talked to the embassy officials who assured me that we are going to get the money soon,” he said. “I am waiting impatiently for financial assistance.”

Mohammed Arman Ullah Chowdhury, the labour counsellor at the Bangladeshi embassy, said they remained hopeful the money would come next month.

The counsellor said he believed that the delays could be due to the large number of people involved.

“The embassy filed a compensation claim request to the Al Ain Court last week. We hope to get Dh3.2 million – Dh200,000 for each victim,” said Mr Chowdhury. “Families keep calling us and the embassy updates them,” he said.

anwar@thenational.ae