The lawyers of the Omani bus driver, who rammed the vehicle into a height barrier in Dubai that killed 17 people, including 12 Indians, have told a UAE court that the restriction bar violated the GCC safety guidelines.
Twelve Indians were among the 17 people killed in the horrific bus accident on June 7 when the bus, coming from Oman, wrongly entered a road not designated for buses and crashed into a height barrier that cut the left side of the bus and killed passengers sitting on that side.
The other deceased include two Pakistanis, one Omani and one Filipina.
Mohammad Al Tamimi, one of the two lawyers representing the driver, told the Dubai Traffic Court that the distance between the warning signboard and the height barrier was only 12 metres, the Gulf News reported on Tuesday.
“The mistake is in the place of the height barrier, according to the pictures in the accident scene. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) guideline for positioning advance warning signs states that if the road’s speed limit is 60km/h, then the distance between the signboard or height restriction chain and the height barrier should be 60 metres, not 12 metres in our case,” Al Tamimi told the court.
According to Traffic Prosecution, the speed limit on that road is 40 km/h.
The Dubai Police blamed the 53-year-old Omani driver, who was moderately injured, for the accident, saying “at times a small mistake or negligence can lead to adverse consequences”.
“It was too short a distance to stop the vehicle. It is not the defendant’s mistake and not his negligence. Putting the height barrier in a wrong place caused the accident,” Al Tamimi said.
Al Tamimi claimed there is no proof that the defendant was driving the bus at 94kph when the crash happened.
He asked the court to assign a specialised engineer from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to inspect the crash site and make a report of the positioning of warning signboards and the height barrier, the report said.
Meanwhile, the second defence lawyer Mohammed Al Sabri accused the RTA of eight “mistakes” found by a report prepared by the company that owns the bus.
He submitted a copy of the report to the court and requested the appointment of an expert to examine the accident location and check if the “mistakes” were committed by the RTA.
“The reason behind the accident was the solid height barrier and its positioning. The sun at the time of the accident [5pm] blurred the signboards to the driver. The confession of the driver is not enough to convict him,” Al Sabri told the judge.
Last week, prosecutor Salah Bu Farousha Al Felasi, director of Traffic Prosecution, said the driver couldn’t follow the signboards as the sun shade had obstructed his view.
“He admitted to lowering the sun shade and didn’t notice the signboards or warning signs, despite having used the road several times before the accident,” said Al Felasi.
“His reckless driving, not paying attention to the road and his speeding, caused the disaster,” he added.
The verdict in the case is expected on July 11, while the defendant will remain under police custody.