Muscat: Ten days have passed. But Shanavas Attumpuram’s family in India is still grieving after an alleged drunk driving juvenile took his and four other people’s lives in Muscat.
Five lives were lost on the night a 17-year-old decided to drive drunk. Many more lives are now hanging in the balance, especially the extended families back home in India dependent on the money Shanavas regularly sent home to Kerala.
Read here: Horror smash kills five in Oman as drink driving linked
They are now dependent - through no fault of their own - on handouts from neighbours and villagers.
In the wake of Oman adopting a zero tolerance approach to motoring offences with a raft of new laws to jail errant drivers, Ashraf PG, the brother-in-law of Shanavas, said that laws on the books are fine but authorities should make sure that they are followed strictly and offenders don’t walk free after claiming lives.
Shanavas Attumpuram and Sainul Abdeen from the south Indian state of Kerala, two KFC drivers in Muscat, two police officers and an Omani lost their lives after an alleged drunk driver ploughed his car into them in the early hours of July 31 at SQU Street in Al Khoudh, Muscat.
The amended traffic law states that fines will be OMR3,000 and jail terms will be two years if an accident takes place and the victim either dies or is permanently disabled as a result of negligence, drunk driving or recklessness.
Read also: Zero tolerance to traffic offences in Oman
Earlier, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol was punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to OMR500.
“The human life loss is irreparable, be it of any nationality. What we came to know is that the drunk driver ploughed the car into the scene claiming our Shanavas’ and others life. If he is charged for drunk driving, he will be jailed for two years. After that he will walk free. Let it be two years or 20 years. Loss is for victims’ relatives only,” Ashraf added.
A senior official from the ROP told Times of Oman earlier that a minor accident took place in Al Khoud, where the driver left the accident scene.
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According to the official, when the driver was contacted, he came back driving fast, which resulted in another accident claiming the lives of Shanavas and Sainul, two police officers and the life of a co-passenger in the car.
“A few days back only we completed the final rituals. His nephews loved him a lot. They were waiting for him to bring gifts while he was supposed to come in December for his engagement. Loss of Shanavas is irreparable for us,” Ashraf added.
“Shanavas had lost his mother and his father had married another woman long back. It was Shanavas who took care of his sisters and my wife. Still, he never used to say no to their demands.
Even though he was younger to them, he was leading the family,” Ashraf added.
Meanwhile, Nadeera Ashraf and Salma Hameed, sisters of Shanavas, said that they are still not over the shock of losing him.
“He loved us a lot. He was our support. As we lost our mother early and father left us alone behind, he was the guy who took care of us. He did everything for us. We wanted to support him and see him having a family and all. However, we lost him,” the sisters said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sainul’s relative Mohammed Nissar, said that there are five dependents – an ageing father, mother, unemployed wife and two girls aged 12 and 9, all of whom are now facing uncertain futures.
“Till yesterday, I was there at Sainul’s home. They are facing the toughest time....we have to find a job for his wife. For now, neighbors are supporting the family, but how long?” Nissar asked.
Hussain PM, Sainul’s close friend in India, said that it’s difficult to say how the family is coping with the situation.
“Sainul had just built a house with a loan from a bank. The loan is pending. We don’t know how to support the family,” Hussain added.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said issued Royal Decree 38/2016 last Thursday. In some cases, the new traffic fines are almost ten times the previous level. The fines and jail sentences have been introduced with the aim of preventing accidents and saving lives due to reckless driving, driving under the influence and negligence.
Motorists have 25 days from Wednesday to prepare. The Royal Oman police will begin enforcement from September 4.