UAE bus drivers feel unfairly blamed for crash that killed 24

UAE bus drivers speak out in the aftermath of the Al Ain collision that killed 24 labourers.

Raja Nafees, a Pakistani driver, talks about his fears on the road In the wake of the tragic car crash in Al Ain that claimed 24 lives. Lee Hoagland / The National
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ABU DHABI // Bus drivers say they are unjustly criticised when it comes to accidents and poor road behaviour, and point the blame at other motorists.

Smaller cars speeding and lane jumping without using indicators are two of the problems that anger bus drivers who spoke with The National yesterday.

Mohammed Panwor said he had to adapt his driving to the behaviour of other motorists, particularly those behind the wheels of small vehicles “who are changing lanes very fast and driving at very fast speed”.

“That’s why I try always to be safe, to reduce my speed and keep a safe distance, otherwise I will crash because of cars stopping,” he said.

Sufyan Mandal travels on a company bus to a building site in Al Ain at 6.15am, six days a week.

“Every time we board the bus we just hand over our lives to God and the driver,” Mr Mandal said. “We have to venture out for work very early each morning.

“They drive in foggy weather conditions, which is very dangerous, but who thinks about us? We have to reach our work on time.”

Indian Singh Mamgit, 33, has been driving buses in Abu Dhabi for seven years and admits he sometimes feels unsafe because of drivers jumping lanes without signalling.

He says he carries out daily checks on lights, indicators, water and fluid levels and brakes.

But Syrian Wesam Fahd, a health and safety officer for an Abu Dhabi building company, believes intoxication could be a problem.

He said sometimes “bus drivers driving in the morning have been drinking the night before. I know one driver – he had two accidents one day.”

Raja Nafees, a Pakistani driver, said: “We drive carefully and follow the rules. We understand the cost of lives, so we do not take risk.

“Before starting I ask workers to wear seat belts. To avoid road accidents, I ask fellow drivers to just follow traffic rules and not speed up.”

Tangam, from India, said he had faith in his company’s drivers. “They are good and understand the worth of workers’ lives and drive as per the rules. They never speed up.”