Sunday, June 10, 2007

Somewhere Down the Road....

“Eight members of a Saudi family were killed when their car was crushed by a speeding truck in the southwest of the kingdom..”

“An Oriya worker has been killed in a road accident in Saudi Arabia, one of his family members said here Wednesday. ...”

“ Filipino couple died in road mishaps..”

2,536 Road Accidents…. 256 died in just 5 months…….

These are the actual figures on the vehicular mishaps in Saudi Arabia from January – May 2007.

Among the fatalities are Filipinos, wherein according to the data of the Philippine embassy, the road accident is the second cause of death among Filipinos.

Just last week, I witness a car accident 30 meters away from our office. From the ringroad of the main street in Riyadh, a car fell down from the intersection bridge 15 meters above and the car was totally wrecked. Fortunately, no other car was hit down the road.

We have seen how the police tried to bring out the 2 passengers from the crammed car that took them almost an hour to take out the fatalities. There were kibitzers causing the traffic to build up from all directions, but nobody dared to give assistance.

It is the rule in Saudi Arabia that only paramedics are allowed to assist, and if you attempt to help, you might end up in jail. Although the nearest hospital is just 50 meters away, no ambulance nor first aid was given. We have seen how they pulled the body from the car and right on the street, even without giving first aid or paramedics in the area, they cover the body and declared as dead on the spot. When the paramedics arrived, the other casualty was not brought immediately to the nearest hospital, but was taken in a shaded area and given a temporary first aid.

When I saw what they did, I couldn’t imagine how sluggish the authorities in Riyadh to respond immediately.

For Filipinos, no mater how careful they are on the road, accidents are expected to happen anytime because of the carelessness of Saudis on the road. Worst, even if you are not causing the accident, you will end up in the loosing end – death or in the custody by the authority, perhaps for questioning or in jail.

Just like what happened to Soriano’s couple few months ago. Dr. Espie, as she was known for, was a very kind doctor in Al Rajhi Clinic. She had helped many Filipinos, including me, for medical treatment. Unlike the most numbered Egyptian doctors in Riyadh who will attend to you dismissively, Dr Espie assured the patients that they will get proper medications and therapy.

I remember when I consulted her in Olaya Clinic and asked to prescribe
me vitamins, she unabashly gave me “Centrum”, although our company does not permit anyone to take vitamins. And when I seek advice from her regarding my on-and-off colds, she made sure that I undergo x-ray before issuing medicine.

Later I learned that aside from being a good medical practitioner, she and her husband were also involved in community service, especially with the distressed and stranded OFWs.

Accidents had no warning, but sometimes premonition occurs. In our attempt to stay away from them, we are bound to accept the fact that sometimes it happens because we are being faced by circumstances that other people become so careless and innocent people turn into victims.

The common dogma of many Arabs is that “If its Allah’s will that someone dies by this way , so be it”… Our Company president is a true believer of Islam…That’s why our office and villa accommodation have no fire exit, no provision in case of disaster and do not care so much for our safety, except for the iniquitous medical benefits that the government obliged them to do…Higher officers deserves higher benefits… lower rank employees should be satisfied with just “Panadol” and “Flutab”!

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