Three people were killed and 50 injured in a further bus crash on a main route in Northern Tunisia yesterday.
According to MosaiqueFM, the bus crashed outside El Fahs on national high-way No.4 which runs from Zaghouan to Siliana in north of Tunisia. It was reported that the driver braked suddenly and the bus continued to slide across the rain soaked road resulting in the bus turning over and crashing causing three deaths.
Injured passengers were rushed to Ben Arous hospital to be treated for injuries from the accident, The Director of the hospital told local media “there are different degrees of injury including three who are seriously injured.
A spokesperson from the national bus company SNRTI who operated the bus route in question stated “The bus and driver were contracted, (from a private company).” emphasizing, “Our drivers never get into accidents” However, he refused to comment about the length of working hours and drivers’ shifts.
Last night’s accident is the latest in a recent series of crashes involving buses to have occurred since the collision between a cement truck and a bus in Kasserine in late August killed 16 and injured 85. A further fatality occurred in mid September when a tourist bus collided with a car, killing one man and injuring 11 of those on board.
Speaking to Tunisia Live the General Secretary of the Federation of Transportation within the General Workers Union (UGTT), Moncef Ben Romdhane said that in this case of last night’s crash, “I believe if was a human error.” He understood that the national company maintained reasonable working practices and Tunisian drivers were well regulated and trained. However, national safety regulations within the private sector remained lax, particularly with regard to the question of working hours and shift management. “This sector is exhausted,” he added that “the necessity for rest time” in shifts has become a priority.
Ben Romdhane believes that the challenge is regulating the private sector in terms of drivers’ health and safety was closely connected to the problem of low pay, pushing drivers to drive more hours than were safe. “Sadly it is a problem of culture….In general, the drivers are badly paid. They have a need to earn a live wage for their families.” Ultimately he believes that “responsibility is shared between the business and the driver.”