Tag Archives al-dana

Criminal turns philanthropist thrills victims families

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Stephanie Grady must be really thrilled to know that the person implicated with the death of her husband, together with 57 other poor souls in the biggest sea disaster in Bahrain’s modern times, has not only not served a single day of his 10 year conviction in prison but a few in a health spa hospital due to his failing health, but has now turned to protecting the environment by adding to his burgeoning multi-faceted business ventures yet another enterprise to run vehicles on the much more environmentally and pocket friendly liquid gas. Stephanie should know that this process is actually proven – according to Mr. Al-Kobaisi – to be 2.5 times cheaper than the petrol it replaces, especially that he promises to convert cars to this new process within just 24 hours of receipt of enlightened owners vehicles.

Abdulla Al-Kobaisi
Abdulla Al-Kobaisi
Stephanie should also be over-the-moon to note that Mr. Al-Kobaisi’s lawyer is now in India wrapping up handing out compensations to victims and that her turn should come to the top of the queue very soon now. A fact that should lessen the sadness and grief that the demise of her husband due to Mr. Al-Kobaisi’s gross criminal negligence and allow her at long last to continue on with her young life. It should come as no surprise to me at all should I ever come to know that Ms. Grady, being such a forgiving soul like the rest of decent humanity, is really at peace with the criminal who killed her husband is recovering from “his serious illness” and has now been released in the last few months from his spa hospital bed and is now fully in control of his businesses, as in that realisation, he continues to ensure that hundreds of low wage workers can continue to send alms back to their estranged families a fact that makes their economies run rather smoothly.

So you see Stephanie, your dear husband’s life, may Allah rest his soul with all those others who died on that fateful trip, has not perished needlessly.


500, going once, going twice, gone!

That’s how much a life if worth, according to lawyers to Mr. Abdulla Al-Kobaisi, the owner of a dhow in which 58 people were killed due to his gross and criminal incompetence, its so called captain and the government agencies which actually registered and allowed it to sail as a tourism vessel.

The owner has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in jail. That sentence got halved, and – maybe due to his “status” – the poor thing is incarcerated at an undisclosed hospital in Bahrain with “serious health complications” – those complications do not, it seems, preclude him from running his businesses and ruining the lives of the survivors and the families of those who perished in his disastrous tub of a boat.

Now, the GDN tells us that he has already compensated 12 of the 27 affected families, the rest, for some reason, he is only offering BD500 per life lost as final compensation.

Take it or leave it.

Can you blame those affected by his incompetence for feeling disgusted? I would hazard a guess that on top of their grief, their loss, they also feel raped and turned over by a system that allows criminals to while away their time molly coddled in spas simply because they can afford to bend the system to their liking, and a system that has absolutely no regard for the sanctity of human life.



Al-Dana owner convicted of involuntary manslaughter

Convicted criminal Abdulla Mubarak Al-Kobaisi - picture credit Al-Wasat Newspaper

المحكمة فقالت في حيثيات حكمها: «ننوه إلى أن بشاعة وفظاعة ما أثاره المتهمان من جرم واستهانتهما واستخفافهما بأقدار ومصائر الناس، وما سببه من حزن وألم خيّم على مملكتنا الحبيبة، وبقاع عدة في الأرض، لا يدع لهذه المحكمة المجال لإعمال أي قسط من الرأفة، وهو ما تقضي معه المحكمة بالحد الأقصى لعقوبة الجريمة الأشد، وهي القتل الخطأ بظروفه المشددة، وفق ما ورد بأحكام المادة 243 من قانون العقوبات».
الوسط – ٢٤ مايو ٢٠٠٧

The Court notes the horror and brutality of the crime perpetrated by the two defendants and their complete disregard and contempt for the fate and destiny of the people and what they caused in grief and bereavement within and without our beloved kingdom which does not allow this Court any leeway for clemency and necessitates the application of the maximum penalty for the crime – which is the causing of wrongful death under duress, according to article 243 of the Penal Code.

I’m not sure that this is enough. The criminal is out on only BD10,000 bail which is a minuscule amount considering the committed crime, and of course he will have the legal right to appeal the verdict. There are; however, civil proceedings brought against him by the survivors and the families of of he dead which I hope will ensure that this sort of gross negligence will not happen again in the future.

What is to be learnt from this experience though?

For one thing, don’t cut safety corners just for the sake of making the country appear that it is bringing in investment. That – as this case has proven – is rather short sighted and futile.

Another thing is the culpability of the government agencies who readily gave the Al-Dana operators the various licenses without any regard to ensure the safety of the vessel and physically follow-up to ensure that safety standards were respected and that its sailors are sufficiently capable of running the boat before final approvals are given.

The departments and ministries involved in the licensing and over-seeing this venture should at least be censured so that internal processes get overhauled to ensure that no shortcut is readily utilised to potentially cause loss or disruption of life in the future.

Why the rulings did not censure the government departments involved is probably due to the workings of the Court system and how the law actually works, it was probably not within its mandate to do so. Therefore it is vitally important that the parliament does its job by creating its own investigative committee to now investigate the shortcomings of those departments and put in legislation or any other over-sight tools to ensure that lessons learnt are put in place and enacted.

The government itself of course should have mounted its own investigation into these shortcomings immediately this disaster happened; if it had, then it should be transparent about it and let us know what steps have been taken and if it has removed those responsible for this negligence on the government’s part from their positions or whatever other remedial actions it has taken.

Once again I offer my heart felt condolences to the bereaved and I understand how they must feel that this ruling will not bring their loved ones back, nor will it suffice to ameliorate their pain felt since the disaster and for the rest of their own lives. I urge them to continue with a class-action law suit against both the owners of the dhow-of-death as well as the government for its culpability in this affair by their gross negligence and flouting of laws and safety standards.


YES! The law seems to be working…

Al-Dana AdI was so glad to read in the papers this morning that the owner of the fateful Al-Dana dhow has been remanded in custody for 7 days by the public prosecutor and that he is facing manslaughter charges that if convicted will land him in prison for 5 years.

This is not an attack on Abdulla Al-Kobaisi’s person nor do I wish him ill; however, he completely flouted the most basic rules of safety in order to make a quick buck. His punishment, if and when it happens should be a good reminder to all of us in business that we have responsibilities to the safety of our employees and customers much more than just making money out of them. Providing a safe and secure work environment must be paramount and we shouldn’t just cut corners in order to make more money, or make it quicker because experience tells us time and again that only leads to disaster, much like Al-Dana catastrophe.

The government, which is in place to regulate and over-see business, if fully responsible as well and should not be left alone. Government officials – no matter who they are and what their position is – should be brought to book and they too must be made example of in order to ensure that the system works in a much more transparent way in the future. In order for this investigation to produce results, it must be independent and it also must be transparent, having the Minister of Interior to head it – with all due respect to him personally – is not a transparent thing to do, as I hold him too responsible for the failure of his ministry under which the Coast Guard is and who are implicated for not doing their job in ensuring that a vessel like Al-Dana should never have sailed.

This disaster also brings to the fore the disparate nature of the government and the complete failure in its procedures and communication systems: how can the Ministry of Commerce & Industry issue a commercial registration without ensuring that all other requirements have been satisfied? How can the Coast Guard not have objected to the instability of the boat’s structure and how can they not have seen this death-trap sail when it launches directly opposite their own main base?

How can an ex-sea-captain who is now in a position of an Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information which oversees tourism activities blatantly inaugurate this dhow and sail in it without raising an objection as to its suitability for the purpose? Or was his captaincy certification bought and paid for, rather than earned? In retrospect his qualifications serve no better purpose than toilet-paper, leave alone the fact that he has been taken from a position in the ports authority and planted in the Ministry of Information. What’s the correlation between the two jobs?

That brings another huge question to the surface and that is the suitability of the person for the job in government organisations which this amply demonstrates, unfortunately with the death of 58 innocent people, and the destitution of probably as many families.

As to the rescue efforts, thank goodness that it happened where it did, just off the US Navy base, who engaged in the rescue efforts within minutes of the incident, unlike the local services who allegedly only arrived on-site at least 30 minutes after the incident, and then added to the confusion rather than engaged in saving lives.

Why is this? Do we not have a national emergency plan? Don’t we have a national disaster response centre? Isn’t there a joint disaster committee between all relevant government ministries like Health, Interior and Defence? Weren’t these things supposed to have been already in place after the Gulf Air disaster?

Of course they are supposed to be in place, but practically the Coast Guard is more concerned with the arts of fishing, the fire department is more concerned with the art of watching a building burn to the ground before arriving at the scene (let alone unrolling those hoses) and rescuing cats trapped in trees, the police are more concerned with beating demonstrators, the defence forces are more concerned with lazing around and each and every one of them having at least one extra job for the afternoons and sleeping at the various bases during those loooong mornings, and of course the traffic cops… well, looking cool in those shades and clearing streets only for dignitaries to pass through unhindered, while letting ambulances flounder in traffic jams created especially by those fantastic brainiacs at the “road planning” department or whatever they call it.

What planning exactly does it take to move congestion points from one location to another a few hundred meters down the road and creating a situation ten times worse than it has been before? Is it called planning when it takes over 30 minutes to travel a couple of kilometres? Can you imagine the number of people who die before receiving aid due to this kind of congestion scene which is endemic in Bahrain?

Well, on that particular night the count is 58. Thanks to the “efforts” of the various government departments.

What do you do with a government that moves from one huge failure to another? What do you do with one that is old, tired and riddled with corruption? What do you do with one that repeatedly values who one knows rather than how much knowledge and creativity a person can bring to a job?

I know that if I was in charge, I would humbly resign and offer an unreserved apology for my continuous failures.

But that’s just me.


Ship Disaster

`Rescue workers bring a body ashore in Manama after a passenger boat sank off the coast of Bahrain in the Gulf, March 30, 2006
Rescue workers bring a body ashore in Manama after a passenger boat sank off the coast of Bahrain in the Gulf, March 30, 2006

MANAMA (Reuters) – At least 57 people drowned when a tourist boat carrying more than 130 people on a dinner cruise sank off Bahrain, a coastguard official said on Friday.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry told Al Jazeera television that 67 survivors had been found. Rescue operations were underway to search for more survivors of Thursday’s sinking of the vessel carrying Asians, Arabs and Europeans.

“There are a large number of those who died who were not carrying identification so it’s hard to determine who they were and where they come from,” the spokesman, Colonel Tarek al-Hassan, said.

My heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who needlessly lost their lives or were injured in this incident, and fervently hope that government agencies in charge of regulating the tourism, safety and security industries put in sterner laws to protect visitors and residents alike, and mount an honest and transparent investigation of this disaster in order to learn from it and save future lives.

People who were directly responsible for flouting safety laws should be punished, and this business should undergo an immediate investigation into their operation, training and certification of their staff and their safety measures.

May they all rest in peace.