Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parents of Sharjah road crash victims seek answers - My letters - Gulf News 15 March 2012

Parents of Sharjah road crash victims seek answers

Father speaks of the last conversation he had with his daughter over the university bus service before she was killed

  • By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 March 15, 2012

  • Sharjah: The parents of two female university students who were killed on Buhairah Corniche in a traffic accident on Monday have said the incident could have been prevented if the bus driver had dropped the students close to their home.
    Ahmad Farouq, the father of 19-year old Mariam who studied at Manipal University in Dubai, said the last conversation he had with his daughter was at 4:30pm after the bus driver refused to take her home after she failed to produce a transfer identification pass, which is the only possible means to be allowed on board the bus
    "She was collected from home in the morning by the same bus driver who refused to drop her off later in the afternoon. She did not have her transport ID card with her for some time because she was very naive and did not know how to get it, so it was not the first time she went on the bus without one. We lived a very protected life in Saudi Arabia and Mariam was still not accustomed to living away from us," said Farouq.
    So upset

    The family lived in Saudi Arabia and when Mariam was accepted at the university to study Biotechnology in the summer of 2011, her parents decided to continue living in Riyadh while she went to live with her mother's sister and uncle in Sharjah.
    Her parents arrived in the UAE on Tuesday morning and were awaiting an explanation from the university as to why their daughter was not dropped off at her home.

    "Mariam called her mother in Saudi Arabia to complain how rude the bus driver was and how he embarrassed her in front of her classmates after she failed to produce a transport ID card on board the bus. She was so upset that she left the bus with her other friends, who also did not have their ID cards with them," explained Farouq.
    Once Mariam got off the bus, another bus driver recognised her and her friends and agreed to drop them off near Al Majaz Park, which is about a 25-minute walk from her home.
    "She used to say that she wanted to live in the dormitory of the university but I kept telling her that it, would happen next year," he remembered.
    ‘Running from the issue'
    Devendra Singh, the father of 21-year-old Mitthi who was due to graduate in June in the media studies programme, said that his daughter accompanied Mariam in the other bus as she also did not have her transport ID pass with her.
    "The bus dropped her far away from her home. They didn't take a taxi but decided to walk and that is when the horrible accident happened," he said.
    "I met with the transport department from the university and when I asked who was the bus driver that dropped my daughter, they did not answer and I felt as if they were running away from the issue," said Singh.
    Gulf News tried to contact Manipal University via email and telephone on several occasions but was unable to receive a comment.
    The traffic accident occurred on Monday at 5.30pm as the two students crossed the road from an undesignated area as there was no zebra crossing close by. They were then suddenly hit by a speeding vehicle, which according to Sharjah Police, was travelling at speeds of more than 120 kilometres per hour through a road that had a 80km speed limit.
    Mitthi Singh was killed on the spot while Mariam was transferred to Kuwaiti Hospital and died later in the night due to her severe injuries.

    My comments as follows:

    It is very sad to see that life of two young students looking forward to a bright future, which was very near to them, getting cruelly perished in a man-made road tragedy here in UAE.

    The concerned transportation department of the university they studied definitely holds responsibility to answer many questions. As we can see, many times, travel of students to and back from classes are contracted to transportation companies. Some of them may not have sufficient trained resources to handle the students. Adding to it, if a temporary driver comes on board, it will create all confusion and absolutely there will be no co-ordination in this shifting. This scenario has to be controlled with strict regulations making mandatory requirements, color codes and training for all student transport irrespective of whether they are small children or university students. This is very important as we get to see several such shuttles daily between shorter routes and longer routes including Abu Dhabi and other emirates happening from these educational centres.

    Point number two is two pronged and to control speeding and jay walking, and create more awareness amongst drivers to not use mobile phones while driving and also create amongst the pedestrians an all time self cautionary approach while crossing the road to hold on to 2 extra seconds and look carefully and cross, while they too do not use mobile phones and be a careless victim of any such tragedies on our roads.

    My prayers to the peace of those two souls departed from this world in a crurel and untimely manner and words of solace to the families and friends involved.

    Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

    To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online

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