Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bus driver problem needs urgent attention.

I've been meaning for ages to write about the appalling standard of driving of one particular group in Dubai - bus drivers.

I'm prompted to do it now by two events. The horrific fatal crash last week and the report in yesterday's Gulf News that labour transport drivers race each other for cash.

The crash was no surprise to me, my surprise is that it hasn't happened before this and doesn't happen much more frequently.

On reflection the Gulf News report is no surprise either, but that was specifically about labour transport drivers. The other bus drivers are just as bad.

I do most of my driving around 'New Dubai', where the vast development is taking place and where thousands of people now work. This includes driving on Sheikh Zayed Road, to Jebel Ali, around the Media/Internet/Knowledge Free Zone and around Dubai Marina.

This means I see not only the labour buses but also the private bus companies plus the Dubai-Abu Dhabi public express bus.

They terrify me!

Forget all the other groups that people write to the papers about, bad as they are. That includes construction truck drivers, expat women in 2-tonne 4X4s, BMW drivers, sub-Continentals, blacked out black 4X4s and every other grouping people complain about. As a group, bus drivers are without doubt the most dangerous.

As an example, on SZR to Jebel Ali I had a private bus millimetres off my tail while he was playing on his mobile phone - texting I assume. Later in Knowledge Village, another screaming round a roundabout almost on two wheels. A couple of days ago the Dubai-Abu Dhabi bus hurtled past me on SZR, near Ibn Battuta Mall, and I was on the speed limit of 120km.

I see this kind of stuff literally every day. And they all have passengers in their buses. Absolutely no regard for human life, for the rules of the road, absolutely no common sense and no intelligence.

Apart from the obvious steps, that we don't have, of adequate training, literacy tests, severe driving tests that are difficult to pass, there's another obvious fault in the system. There are no police.

Like anyone on Dubai's roads, I see these morons throughout the day every day. What I don't see are highway patrols. I no longer see the motorcycle cops - I used to see them everywhere in the old days. If we had enough traffic police for the amount of roads, the amount of traffic, they would also see what we see and maybe then we'd get these homicidal maniacs off the roads.

And please let's have a focus on bus drivers. They are responsible for fifty or more passengers, helpless in the back of the bus without even a seatbelt.

That's without the other road users, such as the mini-bus driver killed last week when the labour bus smashed through the safety barrier into his path.

That accident was carnage...but it could have been so much worse.

Just consider there were over 50 passengers in the bus and only the mini-bus ran into it after it crossed the central reservation. It could have wiped out traffic on its own side of the highway (it was racing another bus remember). It could have been hit by more than one vehicle once it was across on-coming traffic; it ended up across the three outside (fast) lanes. Heaven forbid, there could have been a hundred dead in that one crash.

This is critically urgent. The police and the RTA must take action on bus drivers.

Labour bus drivers use roads 'as race tracks'


Anonymous said...

Hello there,

first of all, my english is not that well but i'm doing my best.
I've find your blog on the internet and sinds then, i read it every day. Most of the people who have a blog, only write about the good things in Dubai, but some of them write the truth. I know somebody who works in Dubai and since than, i like to know more about it.
Well... what i read about it everydag, is unbelievable, it seems that it is a very rich, beautiful and modern emirate, but when it comes to safety and human rights...
For instance, I know someone, who lives in Dubai, had 4 heartattacks last year, he lost his flying licence, but when no one is 'watching', he is still flying the helicopter in Dubai. So, when accidents happen, they are shocked?
What makes me angry too, are, the human rights overthere, everybody knows about it, but everybody closes there eyes.

Its all for the money.. its all for the dumdumdubediedum...

Anyway, I don't live there, and when I come to think and read about it, I never will.

Gautam said...

As I have mentioned on my blog in the past, the bus (van rather) service that we use to get to Uni and back, the driver drives at a speed of around 125 - 150Kms/hour on SZR. Every time we ask him to slow down he gives a silly smile. We end up yelling at him and only then does he understand that we are no hurry and that we would rather reach alive then not reach at all.

Seabee said...

Hi anon. Your English is excellent, don't apologise for it. I'm pleased to have you as a reader.

Gautam I read your posting about your driver. The labourers in the death bus also said they told the driver to slow down every day but he ignored them.

Anonymous said...

Bus drivers in schools are no better. My bus driver drives like a complete maniac. Every morning and evening we've have to go through a roller coaster ride on the way to school.

Seabee said...

dubaiteen, please report him to your teachers/headmaster. Don't allow him to take risks with your safety.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with you. I live in AD and sometimes take the Express Bus, and I am terrified, they drive very bad, I feel like shouting at them, but then I know they barely know English. I have even seen police driving along us and I cant believe they dont stop the bus since it is going so fast and harrasing other cars...I hope things change soon or I may have a heart attack one of these days on the bus....