MANILA, Philippines – Colleagues of the lone Filipino fatality in the tanker explosion in Riyadh believe that the accident happened because the driver was rushing to avoid the truck ban.
Rodolfo Alfonso’s truck was parked on the road side near the fuel truck that exploded along Sheikh Jaber-Khurais Road intersection in Riyadh last Thursday.
Alfonso is a colleague of Florentino Santiago, the Filipino who was among the more than 20 people killed in the accident last November 1 when Ruben Kebeng’s tanker carrying liquefied natural gas crashed into a flyover and exploded.
Alfonso did not believe that Kebeng’s truck was on a stop when it suddenly exploded.
“Hindi ako naniniwala, antimano, andyan ang nasa taas, na talagang hindi siya nakahinto, dahil kung nakahinto sya, marami lalo siyang aaksidentihin, dahil yong kalsadang yun, busy, busy road, may stop light dun, kumaliwa siya, naghahabol siya ng oras dahil may truck ban,” said Alfonso, a truck driver in Saudi Arabia for 21 years.
In May of this year, Saudi Arabia’s Traffic Police enforced a truck ban in Riyadh from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Those caught violating the directive are fined with 500 riyals or about P5,000.
Drivers earn extra on a per trip basis aside from the regular salary that they receive.
They tend to lose a lot when they fail to travel within the prescribed period of the truck ban. That means they have to wait it out somewhere until they are allowed to travel again.
Santiago’s brother-in-law was the one who initially identified his remains at the morgue. However, the repatriation of his remains may still take some time.
“Kailangan pa raw ng DNA test dahil yun daw po ang tamang proseso, e sino po ang kukunan ng DNA, di naman po ako kadugo, bayaw po ako,” said Godofredo Gonzales.
Santiago’s brother in Qatar is set to travel to Saudi Arabia next week for the DNA testing. Report from Roland Blanco, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau