Tag Archives mismanagement

Killing with impunity

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.


Endemic Mismanagement?

The government’s consolidated closing accounts for 2009 has been released to much uproar of the press, fitfully followed up by parliamentarian chagrin and threats to question ministers and impeach them should they be found wanting. Why? Because although the authorised and assigned government budget for recurrent expenditures and projects for 2009 was BD2.484 billion, only spent BD2.082 billion was spent, thus not utilising approximately BD400 million which equates to approximately 16% of the total.

The most offending ministries are:

    1. Ministry of Trade & Industry which only spent 18% of its assigned budget
    2. Ministry of Education spent only 20%
    3. Ministry of Finance spent only 39%
    4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent only 46%, while
    5. MInistry of Health utilised only 49% of its assigned and approved budget.

This is shocking because one would be forgiven in assuming that those budgets weren’t just haphazardly assigned. They must have been required by the ministry which in turn must have (should have?) supported those requirements with projects supported by plans of action, milestones and justifications and required only as much as the projects demanded. So I wonder what transpired to have this much disparity, and is this shortfall acceptable in international standards?

I am rather disturbed by the top two non-spenders as they are key to the development of this country, one is tasked with producing the appropriately educated personnel who would wind up in acceptable jobs generated or at least envisioned by the Ministry of Trade & Industry. What’s even more worrying is that the very ministry which is tasked with setting the government’s budget seems to be not able to manage its own budgetary requirements! As to the MInistry of Health and its chronic bed and other health facilities shortage, why was 50% of its budget not utilised? I guess Foreign Affairs can run quite adequately without 54% of its assigned budget too.

What prompted this situation and why was such mismanagement tolerated? Is it a case of no oversight by the government on its own organs? Are there no internal audits performed throughout the year to ensure that funds are properly and appropriately employed?

I look forward to hear from the offending ministries’ justifications. Is it that the market reached over-capacity and couldn’t partake in some projects; therefore funds had to be sequestered for the future?

An honest look needs to be taken by parliament, the transparency and audit bureaus who should come up with proper recommendations to rectify this situation. Heads, if appropriate, must roll. At the very least, the worst three offending ministers need to be relieved of their duties. Barring excellent excuses, they have shown that they are not fit for the job.