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Accidents and Deaths ‘Waiting to Happen’ – Who’s to Blame?

THIS week’s recriminations involving the state, local authorities and building contractors over who is to blame for the death of a couple whose car was swept off what appears to be a badly-constructed bridge, have drawn attention yet again to the prevailing situation on the island where nobody is ever held responsible, or made to pay, for their mistakes or dereliction of duty.

The simple truth about this latest tragedy is that architects and contractors got away with building houses that encroached into the dry bed of a torrent, which was also full of discarded garbage.

The local authority did nothing to prevent this state of affairs in which the free flow of water under the bridge was blocked, resulting in the torrent flooding over it and sweeping the couple in the car to their deaths!

Now everyone, government ministers, local authorities, MPs as well as the architects and builders regrets the untimely deaths.

They blame each other for the accident and declare in unanimity that this was something “waiting to happen” that could have been avoided if due care, or conformity to rules and regulations had been enforced!

It is mind-boggling that this “waiting to happen” refrain is heard after every serious accident and mishap resulting, sometimes, in heavy loss of life as in the case of last year’s Helios Airline air crash that killed 121 people!

The shocking conclusion of the official inquiry into the air crash was that it could have been avoided if the airline itself and the plane’s crew had adhered to the mandatory safety requirements, and, even worse, if the local and the international aviation licensing authorities had not failed in their duty to ensure that international safety regulations were observed by the airline.

The bridge and Helios accidents are just two such “waiting to happen” events that spring readily to mind. How many more such tragedies must we experience before the authorities get around to doing everything they are expected to do by law to ensure that there is no more tragic loss of life?

In addition to its tragic aspect through the loss of life this state of affairs also reflects on the image of our society, which according to a recent World Economic Forum evaluation ranks Cyprus at the bottom of a list of 125 countries in such sectors as professional management and efficiency.

A comment on this report in this Viewpoint column just a month ago pointed out that “it is vital that not just the government, but plainly political parties, the business world and trade unions, all take serious note of this situation. They all need to work together not simply to improve the economy, but more importantly, to eliminate any factors that may blemish the image of Cyprus.”

Following this week’s accident caused by the blocking of the free flow of water in a river bed through human interference, what would be better than all these organisations carrying out a survey without further delay to ensure that a similar incident does not occur ever again, and that any illegal encroachments in other river beds are promptly removed and those responsible for such illegal encroachments are prosecuted?

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