Two women from Sri Lanka were among those killed in an horrific bus crash in Abu Dhabi last week, officials confirmed on Saturday.
The early-morning accident on the outskirts of the city on Thursday left six dead and 19 injured.
The tragedy unfolded as the minibus, carrying a team of female cleaners, left the capital and headed towards Al Shahama in the emirate.
Soon after, their vehicle collided with the back of a lorry, with the impact of the high-speed crash destroying much of the front of the minibus.
On Saturday, road safety campaigners in the UAE renewed calls to increase the safety standards of minibuses operating in the country.
Experts said some vehicles lacked seatbelts and all needed more regular inspections and maintenance.
“We’ve been pushing for a long time for mandatory safety features on minibuses,” said Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE.
“It would also be a good idea to think about increasing how often they are checked, from once a year [now] to three or four times.
“These are commercial vehicles that are used to drive long distances on a daily basis. It stands to reason they should be checked as often as possible.”
The minibus involved in last week’s crash was travelling on Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Street when the accident happened at 6.30am.
All the passengers on board the vehicle are understood to have worked as cleaners for a UAE company called MBM.
So far, only one of the six killed in the crash has been named. Krishna Kumari Adhikari, 44, was from Nepal, as were many of the injured.
The two Sri Lankan women who died were aged 35 and 50. Police have yet to release their names.
On Saturday, Mr Edelmann estimated there were currently 50,000 minibuses operating in the UAE, with the majority used to ferry workers to and from work.
He said the average minibus usually seated about 14 people, but that companies sometimes crammed in more.
In September last year, eight workers died in the emirate when their minibus hit a parked lorry.
Mr Edelmann said similar accidents would continue to happen until tougher laws were introduced to better regulate minibuses.
He said fatigue was often a major factor, pointing out drivers were required to work long hours.
“The pattern I see most is accidents caused by a lack of attention due to driver fatigue and speeding,” he said.
“It’s often the case that passengers are not at the pick-up place on time and arrive late.
“This makes the driver late for his next stop and it results in him feeling he has to speed up to make it on time.” (Courtesy The National)