Sunday, December 27, 2009

Horror before shift change

IPOH: Driver Mohd Kamil Mohd Ra­­shid was feeling sleepy as his bus was leaving the Tapah rest area.

He had planned to have his co-driver take over at the next stop — the Sungai Perak rest area.

They never made it that far.

The double-decker express bus skidded and crashed into a road divi­der, killing 10 passengers less than an hour later, just 5km before the Jelapang toll plaza.

The 38-year-old driver admitted that he had dozed off prior to the ac­cident, said Ipoh traffic chief De­­puty Supt Mohd Rodzi Rajab.

“He had stopped at the Tapah rest area earlier and planned to change duty with his co-driver at the Sungai Perak rest area,” he said.

Supt Mohd Radzi said that Mohd Kamil tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

Co-driver Mohd Syahridzal Abu Hassan, 24, escaped unhurt.

DSP Mohd Rodzi said Mohd Kamil has been remanded until Wednes-day to facilitate investigations.

He said that the bus had no previous speeding summonses.

However, it is learnt that the driver has a past traffic record.

The double-decker bus, owned by the Klang-based Sani Express Sdn Bhd, skidded before hitting a road di­vider at the 272nd kilometre stretch of the the North-South Ex­­press­­way at 1am yesterday.

All the 10 victims were seated on the lower deck of the bus, which departed from Klang at 9pm on Friday for Kangar in Perlis with 48 passengers.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said the Govern­ment should consider ban­­ning night trips by express buses.

“If the move will safeguard the lives of the people, it should be considered,” he said at the Raja Per­mai­suri Bainun Hospital mortuary here yesterday.

Dr Zambry was there to console families of victims in the horrific crash, which also left three injured.

The dead were identified as Shaharin Mohd Noor, 61, and his wife Supiah Adam, 46, of Taman Setia in Klang, Musa @ Ismail Abdul­lah, 64, from Gurun, Mohd Shukri Mohd Ali, 22, of Sungai Besar, Noor Jismi Noordin, 25, from Kangar, Mohd Bilal Osman, 22, from Sungai Besar, siblings Ng Poh Ngoh, 23, and Ng Kah Kit, 14, from Alor Setar, sisters Sharifah Raheel Al-Junid Syed Harun, 21, and Sharifah Hasanah Al Junid Syed Harun, 15, from Sungai Petani.

Sani Express chief executive officer Mejar (R) Haji Abu Bakar Moham­mad said the bus, which had been in service for three months, was well maintained and in good condition.

Initial investigations based on the on-board global positioning system found that the bus was not speeding as it was fitted with a speed-limiter, he said in a statement yesterday.

“We are waiting for investigations to be concluded and we will act ac­­cording to the report,” he said.

He added that his company would fully cooperate with the authorities.

Mejar Abu Bakar also said the company would be allocating some money for the families of each victim.

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