Muscat: The rising number of deaths in accidents occurring along roads leading to the governorate of Dhofar has left people shocked. Various accidents in different parts of Dhofar witnessed 10 deaths. Sadly, accidents and deaths continue to rise despite many warnings issued by the Royal Oman Police.
While some blame the 800-kilometre-long road between the towns of Adam and Thumrait that needs to be converted into a dual carriageway, others blame speeding and reckless driving. Still others say motorists panic on seeing cows and camels roaming on the roads.
Speaking to Al Shabiba, sister publication of the Times of Oman, Mohammad Al Balushi, wali of Haima stressed the need to build rest areas, petrol stations and mosques every 50 kilometres on these roads.
He appealed to the motorists to avoid indulging in reckless driving and compared it as being akin to trying to attempt "suicide," especially when they have family members as passengers sitting with them.
Al Balushi added, "While authorities are making efforts to improve the road in the Dhofar governorate, it's everyone's duty to practice safety on roads."
Asking drivers to avoid driving at 180 kilometres per hour, Al Balushi said, "We should first consider avoiding this reckless behaviour on the roads and will then ask the decision-makers to do their part about dual carriageway."
It may be recalled that Dr Ahmed bin Salem Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, at a press conference this year had announced the project that will lead to the conversion of the existing 715km-long single carriageway between the towns of Adam and Thumrait into a four-lane dual carriageway. The part one and two phase of the Adam – Thumrait road which extends to 214 kilometres will commence during 2014-2015.
Offering words of advice to those travelling on Dhofar's roads, Royal Oman Police said, "It is important to fully service your vehicle and also check oil, tyre pressure, engine belts and fans, check coolant for water.
"Equip your vehicle with some important tools for emergencies such as a cord for pulling, digging tools, wooden boards, extra water cooler, spare keys to your vehicle, and a fire extinguisher in the vehicle, preferably next to the driver's seat," said an official.
The ROP officials also advised motorists to maintain speed limits and abide by the traffic law of the Sultanate while travelling to Dhofar. "If possible take a break from driving every now and then. It is important to avoid fatigue and replenish your energy. That way you will be giving your car a much needed rest. A stressed out driver and an overworked car is a recipe for disaster," the official said.
They also advised that drivers must maintain a safe distance between vehicles to avoid accidents, especially in mountainous areas where fog along with sharp turns and steep slopes obstructs a clear view of the road. "Be wary of animals, especially at night, on curved roads and during fog. Use the warning indicators while driving on mountainous areas where it can become very foggy," he said.
The police urged drivers to avoid dangerous areas such as paths that lead to caves. "Avoid parking the vehicle on a high location to avoid the vehicle from falling into a cave. Avoid driving in heavily fogged areas, avoid driving on the right side of the street and be wary of parked vehicles on the right of the street without lights on," they said.
While parking the vehicle, "make sure it is not near a wadi crossing, cliffs, or near high voltage electric cables."
Issa Al Noobi, a resident of Dhofar feels that road safety is a joint responsibility, "We are all responsible for road safety. We urge the government to improve the roads that are in a real bad condition. But at the same time, all those who use this road must be cautious. They should not risk their lives, or lives of the passengers and fellow motorists."
He urged drivers not to use cellphones while driving, stating that it is a big risk.
"If everyone takes road safety seriously, we will never hear nor see an accident again," he said.
Sheikh Salim bin Oufait Al Shanfari, Head of Dhofar Municipality, feels the Thumrait road is of good quality. However, he feels, "Despite the danger lurking on the roads, some drivers continue to be reckless. It's best not to gamble on roads and it is better to drive safely and cautiously."
Al Shanfari stressed that the Dhofar Municipality in association with the ROP has been spreading awareness about road safety.
He said the municipality carries out all repairs on the road that extends from Thumrait to Salalah.
About animals on the prowl on the roads, he said, "The municipality is focusing its efforts to put up fences and have also been informing the owners (of the animals) to allow them to graze away from roads."