MUSCAT: A motorist was killed when the vehicle he was driving rammed into a stray camel on the main highway of Al Sinaina last week.
The incident was not an isolated case as accidents involving stray animals mostly camels versus vehicles had been happening for years. One of the worst accidents involving vehicles and camels happened in 2009 in Buraimi when nine people died after the bus they were on crashed as the driver tried to avoid hitting a herd of camels crossing the road.
In the last five years, 2016 and 2017 had seen the most reported deaths due to accidents involving cars versus stray animals. Four people died and 22 others were injured by the end of 2016 including two police officers who were killed when the police car they were driving hit a stray camel in Sharqiyah governorate. These records, of course, are only based on what's reported by newspapers and could be more had the numbers been tracked specifically for these incidents.
In 2017, two accidents also took the lives of an Indian schoolgirl and a delivery guy just months apart when the vehicles they were on also rammed into stray camels.
The delivery man, 50-year-old Mohammed Ali Poyil, is an employee of a bakery and was on his way to Salalah when the delivery van he was on rammed into a camel that was on the road in Marmul. Two months later on September 5, 2017, a 15-year old schoolgirl who was traveling with his father in a car also crashed into a camel in Jaalan Bani Bu Ali resulting in the girl's death.
There were other accidents in the same year — one most notable included a family of three that died instantly in Sharqiyah in February when their car hit a camel crossing the road.
In the same year, the camel vs car accidents in the Sultanate had gotten so severe that it made it into the reports by a newspaper in Dubai with The National, saying that "Camels in Oman cause the deaths of an average 41 people a year on the roads."
The Royal Oman Police department has responded that year by implementing rules of impounding camels without luminous straps and warning that owners could face 15 days in prison or a fine of OMR500 depending on the severity of the offense.
In 2018, the Batinah Expressway in Khabourah witnessed a huge accident involving five vehicles injuring 10 people on the process all because the area was so dark and a camel crossed the road.
A 2019 report by Oman Observer has highlighted that animals should not stray into roads with the Ibri Municipality sternly warning that “it is the responsibility of the animal owners to ensure that their livestock does not stray on the roads and other public places. Action will be taken against the offenders”.
The Al Batinah area has also been identified as a hotbed for accidents with motorists saying that "these roaming animals are threatening the lives of many road users as the warning signs that animals may be passing through the area are not visible in the night."
The Royal Oman Police then emphasized earlier rules that "camels found on streets without luminous straps will be impounded, while their owners could face up to 15 days in prison or a RO 500 fine depending on the severity of the offense."
As of today, the Legal Department at the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources (MRMWR) has seen the gravity of the incidents and has warned serious measures versus the owners of stray animals.
In a statement, Bader Al Saeedi, Director of the Legal Department of MRMWR said that they had "initiated legal procedures against owners of stray animals, by referring violators to the public prosecutor, because of the risks they pose to individuals and public and private properties."