Killing with impunity

26 Dec, '10

And not only that, get the bloodied survivors to sign a no contest agreement to absolve the killer and his sponsors to boot.

SURVIVORS of a tragic bus crash that killed three Bahrainis in Jordan have reportedly signed documents absolving the driver from responsibility.

Caravan owner Saeed Al Durazi, who is still nursing his wounds in a Jordanian hospital, said driver Ali Najaf was staying in a hotel with the remaining survivors arranged by the Bahrain Embassy in Amman.

Forty-nine Bahraini pilgrims, including 38 women and two drivers, were travelling on the bus owned by Bahrain-based Al Dalal Caravan to the Sayeda Zainab shrine in Damascus, Syria.

The accident happened on Thursday at the Al Zarq’a area when Mr Najaf attempted to avoid a truck hitting the bus, according to the Jordanian Embassy in Bahrain.

It is thought he was surprised to see the vehicle, which was reportedly changing lanes, and swerved to avoid it.

However, the bus ended up colliding head on with the truck and overturned several times.

GDN · 26 Dec 2010

There are many such international bus transport companies operating from Bahrain, most of whom are ill equipped to safely transport goats, let alone people for journeys to places as far as Mecca, Medina, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, which are usual destinations for these operations. They survive on cutting costs by hiring sub-standard and inexperienced drivers and goodness knows what other trade-offs in safety and comfort are incurred in their greedy chase for quick profits.

As far as I know, there are no rules governing such operators either. Or if there are, they are not applied. Punishments, of course, are never meted out for transgressions.

Instead, what we get is just as happened here: a clear case of negligence in which the criminal company, its owner and the driver should be strung up or at the very least beggared, to pay for lives lost and livelihoods destroyed and make a strong example of in order to ensure that like-operators take safety seriously and invest in better staff, better training, better equipment and better practices.

So who’s to blame?

Well, let me put it another way. Who’s responsibility is it to oversee enterprises in a country to ensure that they operate within the law, within published guidelines and within mandatory safety parameters?

Yes. It’s the government department or departments which are charged with all of these elements, so they are to be blamed first and foremost. With them abrogating their responsibilities, people were killed, and will continue to perish because of their gross negligence.

The second are the operators. It is very much their responsibility to ensure that their equipment, drivers and operations are conducted with safety and comfort in mind.

Third, and most importantly, are the very people who use such services without questions just because they are cheap! Not only that, they continue to look for even a cheaper deal, without much regard given to the safety, comfort and reputation of an operator.

It is no surprise at all that the combination of these factors result in deaths and will continue to do so. However, the real tragedy is not just the unfortunate loss of life, it is the condoning of such an event and even readily attributing it to fate and God’s will.

“The driver came to me crying in hospital saying that the memories of the tragedy were haunting him,” said Mr Al Durazi from his hospital bed.

“I told him that God has chosen that this tragedy happens and crying wouldn’t rewind time and that he is not responsible or else I would have him arrested myself.

How revolting.

The Public Prosecutor should immediately get involved here and raise a case of criminal negligence on both of these jokers. Those documents they got signed absolving their responsibility should be immediately declared null and void, and the owner of the company and the involved driver should be put on trial.

Doing anything else is just irresponsible and unacceptable.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Coolred38 says:

    When I went with my son on a bus to Umra some years back…there was only ONE bus driver to make that long trip…with just a few stops along the way for us to visit bathrooms etc…not to sleep. This one driver was meant to drive the whole way without any significant rest….turns out he nearly wrecked us while falling asleep at the wheel. Luckily, my best friends cousin knew the dangers very well and virtually stood over his head the entire trip keeping an eye out for just such a thing. HE was the one that caught the guy falling asleep and ordered him to pull over…and demanded he find another driver. Everyone was up in arms about it and I thought the driver was going to get a beating by a bus load of umra goers…but it was sorted out eventually.

    Just goes to show..most people sit down on the bus thinking everything is taken care of…all they have to worry about is arriving on time etc. Does anyone wonder if the driver is capable of driving safely…if the bus is safe..(speaking of which our bus had a multitude of mechanical problems) or whether due care was taken to ensure our safety (having at least two drivers taking turns)?

    I guess travelling by air is similar except generally that is far more regulated with punishments meted out when and where they are earned.

  2. The survivors are not qualified crash invsetigators, they are not able to say who was at fault.

    Anything they sign should be worthless. Especially if they sign it at the behest of the culpable party, and whilst still hospitalised.

    Does Jordanian law give weight to such a document?

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