Colombia Bus Crash


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.

2 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. TAMAIRA LAMK January 9, 2013 at 10:04 am -

    Just like many other problems in Colombia, this one refers to the way justice is administered and to the way people are educated.

    When talking about justice, I mean revising existing regulations, ammending them or including more effective measures to prevent situations like this which, in my view, should concern not only sanctioning the drivers, but also the companies that own the buses.
    Another part of the problem lies, not only on issuing measures, but on establishing institutions vested with authority to execute said sanctions. What good will it do to create ANSV when, as the article states, the institutions in charge have no will, muscle or competence to see to the execution of sanctions which are probably already established by the law?
    And as far as education is concerned, we would also need to look into how we are educating people to become responsible drivers, responsible citizens, people who care about life, in general. Only education can correct the many decisions that citizens make day to day, and which can have dire consequences, so instead of: “who cares if my car is not fit for driving, I have no money to pay for the mechanical adjustments it requires”, we start thinking how important it is to comply with requirements because the cost of non-compliance might be putting our life, the lives of those we love, or the lives of those we transport at stake.
    Accountability through education which might lead to a different way of issuing and viewing laws is my recommendation in a country where legislators are well known owners of transportation companies. Which in turn leads to another aspect of corruption in Colombia: Conflict of Interests. Where to begin?

  2. Ally December 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm -

    “the company that owned the bus has been investigated for eight different transport violations.”

    and what was the name of the company…?

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