Middle East truck tourists deserted in Turkey
Scania trucks were carrying European visitors on a tour of the region
Passengers of a UK tour company promoting truck tours through the Middle East claim they were abandoned at a Turkish hostel after their driver and owner of the company allegedly disappeared with their money and two passports.
The passengers were in the third week of a 13-week trip between the UK and Nepal, organised by Truck Monkey Overland Tours.
Truck Monkey was set up by former coach driver Sean White, who decided to run his own tour company after many years of running overland tours for different companies in the Middle East and India.
Truck Monkey claims it owns a fleet of re-fitted Scania trucks and operates four main tours, including two across the Middle East. Its longest trip is the 13-week epic tour that starts in London and ends in Kathmandu; along the way up to 25 tourists get to experience Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and India before heading to Nepal. The cost of each ticket was $4,000.
In an interview published in a local newspaper this week, the Mansfield-based, UK businessman said that before starting Truck Monkey, he spent 15 years travelling overland across the Middle East, Africa and India. White said he hoped that people on his tours will find their experiences touring through countries like Jordan and Syria as inspiring as he has.
However according to passengers claiming to be on the latest tour, White who was driving one of the re-fitted Scania buses, abandoned six passengers in Turkey two weeks ago after the truck broke down. He is also alleged to have taken a safe containing passenger money and passports with him.
"The owner/driver Sean White has done a bunk and has not been heard of since last Monday 6am, and by coincidence the money belts that were held for safe keeping in his safe are missing along with two passports belonging to members of the group," claimed one passenger.
Another passenger wrote to the local newspaper Chad claiming that since abdanoning the passengers in Turkey, White has not returned home and has not been contactable.
The passenger wrote: "Whıte ıs a crook! I am one of the passengers on the trip advertised. We were only six passengers on the trip, although he told us there would be 23. After 3 weeks of travel the truck broke down. It is not his truck, he is full of lies. He had no money to get the truck fıxed as he had no breakdown ınsurance.
"We were in Turkey. He left us in a hostel and never came back. He deserted us ten days ago, and stole the safe with all our moneybelts containıng our personal monıes, credıt cards and passports! He has gone into hiding back in the UK. He answers no emails. His phone is permanently swıtched off. He is not at his home address."
The police authorities in Mansfield have reportedly opened proceedings against White. When PMV contacted his office and mobile phones there was no answer.
On the Truck Monkey website, White calls his Scania trucks "second to none" and promotes their reliability and safety.
“Our truck and equipment are second to none, we have the experience and savvy to know what does and doesn’t work on the road," White writes. "We choose to use Scania trucks for all our tours. Chosen for their reliability, strength and adaptability on and off the road. The bodies are specially adapted and purpose-built to our specifications. This design is to provide maximum safety, comfort and accessibility.
“We want to make sure that our clients are able to enjoy each place we visit, instead of just cramming in as many countries as we can as fast as we can.”