Two Passegers Have Died, Driver Unlicensed and Bus Did Not Pass Warrant of Fitness

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Translated from files of FaaSamoa. Two passengers from Monday morning’s horrific Laumosooi Bus crash at Malifa have passed away.

Deputy Police Commissioner Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti confirmed the death of one elderly man from Poutasi. He is one of four passengers who had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit on Monday.

A second passenger passed away in his sleep less than 24 hours after the accident. According to the man’s family, he was checked by health officials at the hospital, and released to go home.

The family of the Tafatafa man say they are uncertain of the time of death, as they only discovered his death in the morning.

“E feala mai i le taeao, ua maliu o ia..”

On Monday officials reported that 27 passengers had been treated and released; while four were admitted to the ICU following the accident.

Compounding the issues relating to this bus crash Deputy Commisioner Papalii says neither the driver nor the bus was licensed.

Papalii told Samoa Global News police investigations have discovered the driver of the bus does not hold a commercial license to carry passengers, and at its last inspection, the bus did not meet road worthy standards for a warrant of fitness.

“Our Traffic division is now checking with the LTA (Land Transport Authority) to see if this bus was included in the list of vehicles that were passed in September..”

Passing of vehicles and the issuing of driver’s licenses had been under the Samoa Police until 01 July 2022 when this service was shifted back to the Land Transport Authority.

Residents from Falealili say the bus driver who goes by the name of Moana, has been driving buses to and from Falealili and Siumu for at least 10 years.

Passengers say the driver lost control of the bus when they had passed the Princessa shop at Papauta. The driver started honking desperately for cars to move out of its way as it sped downhill.

A video taken by a passenger has been posted and shared widely on social media.

It is suspected the brakes failed, however, some passengers who had been standing on the bus say it felt like the entire axle had broken.

The Laumosooi bus sped through morning traffic near Leifiifi College and crashed into an oncoming vehicle before it literally broke into pieces and scattered along the side of the road. Passengers were thrown from the bus and lay in the wreckage.

A post by a citizen, Ms Malavai Ah See on the 2nd of September 2023 – exactly one month before the bus crash – warns the driver of bus registration number MO 123 against reckless driving.

One month later, MO 123 is the very bus in this crash that has claimed two lives with passengers still in critical condition at Motootua National Hospital.

It is unclear whether criminal charges will be brought against the owners of the Laumosooi bus company for employing an unlicensed driver and operating a passenger bus without a warrant of fitness.

Questions sent to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health regarding the release of passengers from Motootua National Hospital on Monday, had not been responded to at the time of publication.

The Land Transport Authority has not yet made a public statement regarding the licensing issues in question.