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© Reuters / Thomas White

What was Asia Bus Response?
Asia Bus Response was a voluntary, co-ordinating group of UK bus professionals that aimed to help the UK bus industry respond appropriately and meaningfully to the tsunami disaster of December 2004.

What was the aim of Asia Bus Response?
The first Asia Bus Response shipment sent buses from UK bus fleets to help rebuild the infrastructure of Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the areas worst effected by the tsunami. ABR2 was planned to send more vehicles to Sri Lanka.

Asia Bus Response undertook to:

  • ensure that buses dispatched fit the needs of the destination countries
  • arrange for buses to convene at a UK location for assembly/shipping
  • have all vehicles mechanically checked pre dispatch to ensure worthiness
  • liaise with operators, local authorities and industry suppliers concerning
    parts, training and other opportunities.

What was the role of Islamic Relief?
Islamic Relief's role in ABR1 was to:

  • co-ordinate shipping, insurances, export and import tax, registrations and licences and arrange payments for same via the governments of the destination countries and other organisations and individuals
  • distribute buses as appropriate and do all possible to ensure that donated vehicles are fully utilised by those affected by the tsunami disaster, not left unused or co-opted by others or used in other areas
  • use the buses as a means to reskill the local workforce, to rebuild confidence, pride and independence among the people and communities stricken
    by the disaster
  • provide occasional updates on how the buses are being used and how they have helped local communities.
For ABR2, this was to have been the responsibility of the Sri Lanka Government.

Are UK buses already known to the destination countries?
Both Sri Lanka and Indonesia have imported buses from the UK in the past and UK bus executives have personal experience of operating buses in tropical locations. Expert advice was essential to determine which vehicles would be best suited to the climate and conditions. As well as providing robust, high-floored and low-tech buses, Asia Bus Response vehicles were shipped with spare parts to further extend
their working life.

Was this the right help at the right time?
The redevelopment of infrastructure is essential, as countries devastated by the disaster seek to generate income and rebuild their economies. The need to do so
was expressed by the countries concerned and supported by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela.