Sunday, October 05, 2008

Michael Schumachers Wannabees in Dubai!

If you have been Dubai, you would notice the sheer number of buses on the roads especially during rush hour. These buses carry labourers to the site from their labour camps around Dubai or Sharjah.

Driving every day to work is always like trying to race with not only the sport cars, saloons, 4WDs, vans, pickups but speeding buses, sometimes encroach on the fast lane.

The luxury car drivers can be excused for being snobbish but small car and bus drivers who love to flash another vehicle infront of them sometimes irritating as well as dangerous for other road users.

Major roads will block trucks and lorries during rush hours but the buses are nuisance most of the time, but then again, every one has duty to reach work on time.

Traffic jam and Salik are no longer a valid excuse for being late....hence, we have the critical number of deaths on the Dubai roads, well, better be safe than sorry or better reach the office safely than your own burial in rush along with the innocent victims!

Bus drivers flirt with death
By Sunita Menon, Staff Reporter
Published: October 05, 2008, 00:02
Dubai: A monstrous looking bus packed with blue collar workers tailing-gating a tiny sedan is not rare on Dubai's roads.
Infamous for having no respect at all for traffic discipline, these bus drivers apply bullying tactics by aggressively flashing their headlights at small cars and four-wheel-drives who refuse to get out of their way. And if any of these buses is forced to manoeuvre into an adjacent lane by the defiant driver of a smaller vehicle, be ready to witness the bus driver rolling down his window and shouting obscenities.
Scenes like these bring back memories of the ghastly road accident that took place three years ago on Shaikh Zayed Road on December 14, when a speeding bus rammed into a van and then overturned, killing nine workers and leaving more than 50 injured.

Unfortunately, no lessons have been learned and today bus drivers continue to be devils on the roads.
Keeping an eye on the speedometer and driving within the stipulated speed limit does not come easy for these would-be Michael Schumachers who throw caution to the wind.
Gulf News caught up with some bus drivers for whom their new-found notoriety is something that they are proud of.

After initial apprehension the drivers gave their side of the story only on condition of anonymity. Some of them blamed the lack of road planning, some complained about the traffic congestion, others raised objections to the speed limits and some challenged the attitude of fellow motorists.

They had no hesitation in admitting that they flaunt traffic rules, "but only out of desperation".
"What do you think I should be doing when I am in a hurry? If we drive below the speed limit the workers get irritated and ask us to drive fast," said one Pakistani bus driver who prides himself on being in complete control, even if he exceeds the speed limit of 100 km/h.

Asked whether he had ever raced on Dubai's roads the driver said: "Yes. Races are not planned. I engage in a race when a sewage tanker or pick-up van tries to overtake my vehicle on the road. Accidents happen when a driver does not have control of the speed."

He said he drives in the fast lane almost every day.
An Indian worker said that the drivers, if caught speeding, are quick to pass the blame to the workers.

"The drivers blame us for encouraging them to speed," he said. "On the contrary we keep requesting them to drive in the third lane. It is scary to see two buses packed with workers driving neck-and-neck, each trying to take the lead."

These bus drivers, who start their day as early as 2am, transport workers in batches to various construction sites.

"Traffic congestion starts after 6am and from then on it is impossible to reach anywhere on time," said another Indian bus driver.

"It is against the rules to talk on the telephone but we cannot ignore the calls made to us by our site supervisor or accommodation boss.

"If the workers are delayed in reaching their work site by even ten minutes, we get calls from the supervisors making enquiries.

"There is no choice, we are forced to take the call or else we are issued warnings. On the other hand police slap us with fines or black points when they catch us talking on the mobile phone when driving," he said.

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