Muscat: This is the final image taken seconds before a passenger coach slammed into a solid steel barrier in Dubai, killing 17 passengers.
The Omani driver of the Mwasalat bus is evidently alert and concentrating on the road ahead. Seconds later, 15 passengers died and two more died later that day in hospital after the Mwasalat coach hit the barrier.
The barrier ripped through the left hand side of the coach. The driver claims he was blinded by the sun and did not see the barrier. The on-board camera shows clearly that he was not on his phone or distracted. Bright sunshine can be seen reflecting off his face and dishdasha.
The accident took place on 6 June, during a routine bus journey from Muscat to Dubai. The bus crashed on Mohammad Bin Zayed road in Dubai just after 5:30pm. The victims were from the Sultanate of Oman, India and Europe.
The image was part of a report sent to Times of Oman by Oman’s embassy in the United Arab Emirates. The embassy provided defence solicitors for the driver presented in court and submitted the report to the UAE court.
The embassy has said that they will appeal the ruling passed by Public Prosecution Dubai, that the driver face a seven-year jail term and payment of AED 3.4 million (about OMR 350,000) in compensation to the families of the 17 victims as well as the 13 injured.
The report notes: "The position of the sun during the accident at 17:34 was low and directly affected the field of vision of the driver as well as his ability to read the signs.”
It added: “Placing the signs correctly in terms of location for the sun and various lighting, both on the top and on the side of the road, can greatly affect the effectiveness of the presence of these signs. The sign should always be placed to reduce the glare. Decisions on roadside signage and overhead signage should be related to the conditions of the site and signs should be placed in a manner that ensures the best result and safety. Signs should be far enough away and allow the driver to read the message, understand it and make the right decision."
"The image was recorded just before time of the incident, 5:30 pm, so that we can understand what the driver faces at the same site of the accident and we can see some obvious technical errors at this site,” the report concluded.
Speaking to Times of Oman, Dr Khalid bin Said bin Salim Al Jaradi, the Sultanate's Ambassador to UAE, said: “We are going to appeal the verdict issued by Dubai Traffic court on Thursday against the Omani bus driver. The embassy is following up the case.”
He added: “Unfortunately, the judge didn’t respond to the embassy’s defence lawyer, which we have provided for the bus driver when he filed a series of requests, including the appointment of an expert to identify the specifications of the iron barrier to verify that it complies with the international standards on traffic safety.”
In this context, the statement from Dubai Prosecution said, “Dubai Traffic Prosecution orders to refer the Omani driver to Dubai Traffic Court after he was charged with causing the death of 17 passengers and injuring 13 people with varying bodily injuries and damage due to the use of the vehicle as these are traffic offences.
“The prosecution shall seek to apply the penalties provided in the law against the driver, in accordance with the federal laws in force, penalties, traffic and blood money- as the penalty is imprisonment of seven years as well as fine, in addition to oblige him to pay a sum of AED 3,400,000 to the heirs of the deceased as a result of the incident.”