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Times of Oman - 30.12.2015

Muscat: Residents and road safety experts have called for “stringent training” of bus drivers following a Mwasalat bus collision on Tuesday in which two people were injured.

The newly-introduced Mwasalat bus was in collision with a tourist bus at Ghubra and a passenger and an Omani bus driver were injured, according to a Royal Oman Police (ROP) spokesperson. The ROP, however, did not indicate who was to blame or how the accident happened.

Even though Oman bus drivers are considered ‘trained’, residents said they would like to see drivers receive thorough training to prevent future accidents.

“Drivers should undergo more rigorous and intensive training and must have a minimum of five years’ driving experience to avoid any such incidents in the future,” a Ghubra resident said.

Others have called for physical, hearing and vision requirements for bus drivers. “[Bus drivers] typically work without direct supervision and are fully responsible for the safety and satisfaction of their passengers. Therefore, they have to be equipped with the required knowledge and skills. They also must meet physical, hearing and vision requirements,” said Amor bin Nasser Al Matani, Chairman, Oman Road Safety Association.

“We must keep in mind that driving the same route every day requires more attention, as a driver’s mind could easily become distracted,” Al Matani noted, adding that distractions come in many guises, including day-dreaming, fidgeting with the radio, becoming tired, fatigue and using cell phones.

Precise schedules

Al Matani suggested drivers follow precise schedules and adjust their driving according to traffic and weather conditions, in order to arrive at each stop at its designated time.

Mark Pudwell, Business Development and Training manager, Competence HR, said that drivers of buses are required to undergo stringent training, both theoretical and practical, in order to provide safe journeys for passengers.

Safety of passengers

“The responsibility for the safety of up to 50 passengers must be taken seriously, and as part of this responsibility, transportation company owners must provide their drivers with the appropriate level and standard of initial and continuous training,” Pudwell said.

“Regular assessments of drivers’ abilities must be undertaken to identify skill gaps. Then there is also a responsibility for other road users to adopt additional safety protocols around large buses, as they are required to pull over at designated stops on busy highways and are slow to pull back into fast moving traffic.

Safe passage

“Car drivers should allow buses to pull out safely, moving over while using mirrors and indicators, giving bus drivers enough room to enter traffic and gain speed. No amount of training can replace common sense or simple courtesy on the roads,” he said.

Following Tuesday’s accident, traffic was blocked from Qurm to Ghala.

“It is understandable that the road where the accident happened was blocked, but the fact that traffic was jammed on the other side (Ghala to Ruwi) is weird,” one passenger said.

“Initially, I wasn’t sure on which side the accident had taken place. It was later that I realised that cars on my side of the road were slowing down to catch a glimpse of the accident,” he added.

The Mwasalat bus has been lauded by both citizens and expats for providing more convenient and easier commuting in Oman.


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