Jail for bus driver who knocked another bus down slope at Bukit Batok interchange

Loo Eng Chai was also disqualified from driving for five years for causing the accident at Bukit Batok Bus Interchange that saw another bus ending up on its side.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A Tower Transit bus driver who caused 14 people to be injured after driving his vehicle into another bus at Bukit Batok Bus Interchange was jailed six weeks on Tuesday (May 31).

Singapore permanent resident Loo Eng Chai, 66, was also disqualified from driving for five years after he pleaded guilty to one charge of causing grievous hurt to six people by committing a negligent act during the incident on July 11 last year.

Among those who were grievously hurt were the driver of the other bus, Mr Mohammed Salleh Mian, 65, and Mr Alias Mokson, 57, another driver who was taking a break when the accident happened.

Mr Salleh was given 43 days of hospitalisation leave for injuries that include a broken nose and laceration to his forehead, while Mr Alias had injuries, such as fractured ribs, and was given 83 days of hospitalisation leave.

One passenger, a 53-year-old woman, suffered a pelvic fracture and was given 131 days of hospitalisation leave.

Another charge of causing hurt to eight passengers in Mr Salleh's bus by committing a negligent act was taken into consideration during Loo's sentencing.

In the incident last July, the bus driven by Mr Salleh ended up on its side on a slope after the collision.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling told the court on Tuesday that Loo, who had been working as a bus driver since 2000, had just started his route for the day on service 945 at about 5pm.

Before that, he checked his bus to ensure it was in safe and operational order. 

As he was driving along the interchange, he failed to stop as he approached the stop line at a T-junction. 

Said DPP Chee: “He continued to turn right into the said T-junction without keeping a proper lookout for oncoming vehicles... and, in doing so, failed to give way to (Mr Salleh’s) bus, which had the right of way. 

“Due to (Loo’s) negligence, he collided with the right side of (Mr Salleh’s) bus,” she added.

Mr Salleh’s bus toppled down the slope, landing on its left side. It also collided into Mr Alias, who was taking a break on the lower pavement at the bottom of the slope, and uprooted the roadside fence.

All 14 victims - including 13 in Mr Salleh's bus - were taken to hospital following the incident.

An inspection of Loo’s bus revealed no evidence suggesting any abnormality to its engine, transmission and braking systems.

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An inspection of Mr Salleh’s bus to determine its condition before the accident could not be properly assessed as the mechanic could not start the engine and was unable to test its various systems.

DPP Chee called for Loo to be jailed for six to eight weeks and be disqualified from driving for five years.

Loo, who did not have a lawyer, said in mitigation that he is currently working as a cleaner and needed to support his family, who are living in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Tower Transit said previously that he had been dismissed from his job.

For causing grievous hurt by committing a negligent act, Loo could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.