Bus tragedy kills 27
Colombia’s road safety is under close scrutiny following the death of 27 in one of the country’s worst bus accidents Tuesday. The bus that crashed in Cundinamarca, injuring a further 16, had failed a mechanical and technical review just two weeks before the tragedy took place. The vehicle had been due to return to the Automotive Diagnostic Centre where it had failed its review for inspection on Tuesday to ensure that rectifications required had been carried out. The bus was travelling from Bogota to Cali when its brakes and veered into a ditch shortly before midnight on Sunday night.
An estimated 5,000 people lose their lives in traffic accidents every year in the Andean nation famous for its perilous mountain roads and poor infrastructure. In total, over the last decade more than 63,000 people have died on the roads.
Minister for Transport Cecilia Alvarez-Correa expressed her sympathy for the families of the 27 victims and has ordered an inquiry in the accident. She stated that “we cannot keep playing with the lives of Colombians” as well as pointing out that the company that owned the bus has been investigated for eight different transport violations.
Road safety in Colombia is a pressing issue in need of drastic legislative reform. Last month the Ministry of Transport proposed the creation of a National Road Safety Agency (ANSV) to combat this growing problem. This will give little comfort though to the families of those who lost their lives in such preventable circumstances.
Earlier in December 8 were killed and 11 injured in the city of Ibague, and last month a driver in Bogota with an accumulated 4,500 US Dollars in fines caused outrage when he ran a red light and ploughed into two school children. British writer Richard McColl has called for action against the bus companies and for stronger will from the police in tackling these under-and-poorly regulated public transport providers.
Action is needed quickly, but people remain sceptical the government will prioritize such reforms.