10 November 2021. Samoa Police are investigating a bus destroyed by fire early Sunday morning while it was parked outside the driver’s home at Lotofaga, Aleipata.
Deputy Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said the Lalomanu Police were alerted at about 7am on Sunday morning.
Auapaau said two buses were parked close together, however, there was minimal damage to the second bus as family members and villagers were able to put out the fire. Images of the first bus shows it has sustained major damage.
“The family called police after the incident,” said Auapaau in response to questions from SGN. “They told investigating officers that they saw the fire starting up at the back of the bus near the rear tyres”.
The owners of the buses are from Saleapaga village, and the buses work the route from Saleapaga to Apia. The buses were parked outside the driver’s home, in Lotofaga when the incident occurred. The driver is married to a woman from Lotofaga.
Lotofaga is the village of Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa, and social media posts by politically affiliated pages have suggested the incident is a result of political conflict between the two main parties. Members of the Puletiuoatoa Samasoni family who own the buses have vehemently denied these allegations, and pleaded with the public to not spread any rumours that would further impact them at this difficult time, as they deal with this personal crisis that is affecting their income and family business.
The bus owners told Loabay Media both vehicles were fully insured and they are working with their insurers to repair damages sustained by the fire. “The less damaged bus should be on the road in a couple of weeks, and the other one should be fixed by Christmas”.
Deputy Commissioner Auapaau told SGN their preliminary investigations do not point to anything affiliated with a political conflict or dispute as confirmed by the family.
“The bus route is from Saleapaga to Apia and our investigations are looking to rule out anyone who may have had issues with the driver, or infighting between service providers sharing the same bus route,” said Auapaau.
Auapaau said police investigations continue and they should have an update in the days to come.