Adding to the overabundance of bus accidents in the Philippines, a passenger bus carrying no less than 77 people plunged into a ravine in the province of Nueva Ecija killing 33 and injuring a further 44. The bus reportedly blew a tire, the driver losing control of the vehicle and falling through an opening in the roadside barrier.
Already you can see the culprit in this tragedy: blowing a tire indicates that the wheels may have been substandard. Upon further inspection it seemed that the tires have exceeded their expiry dates, which is an obvious safety violation. Meanwhile, the chassis of the bus engine also indicated that it was last registered in 2006 – which may have played a part in the accident.
Outside of the bus company’s – Leomarick Bus Ltd. – fault is the fact that the bus penetrated the roadside barrier. Such barriers were meant to prevent this kind of incident from happening, for it to fall short of its purpose means that it was below-par which presents itself as a safety risk – that proved to be the case in the Nueva Ecija bus tragedy. The Department of Public Works and Highways therefore need to evaluate if such road barriers are capable and if corruption played a part in the poor quality of Nueva Ecija’s.
It is worth noting that another government agency also could be faulted for this incident. According to the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Leomarick Bus did not have a permit to ply the route it took. The bus line was permitted to operate different routes not including Nueva Ecija. The LTFRB needs to review if other bus lines are operating within their routes and to evaluate its own capacity to impose these permits and weed out any violators.
To add to the absurdity of this tragedy, the bus involved only had a capacity of 45 passengers. There were 77 passengers involved in the incident, which means it was severely overloaded. This is a common practice among bus companies who try to maximize their profits by blatantly ignoring safety procedures. Had the bus been less crowded passengers might have been able to veer themselves out of the bus.
Several incidents have occurred in the past, again with the same culprits. In February, a tour bus carrying students from BestLink College crashed killing 14 of its passengers – most of them were tertiary students. Faulty breaks were to blame for the incident as the driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle. The surviving passengers also recalled smelling tires burn, which indicate more flaws in the bus used.
In 2013, a passenger bus fell out of the Manila Skyway killing eighteen passengers and wounding 20 others. The bus driver was later found to have been under the influence of narcotics, was over-speeding and the bus was found to have worn out tires. In 2010 a tour bus carrying Iranian students crashed – killing 21. The tour bus company did not have accreditation from the Department of Tourism to conduct tour groups.
Many are quick to blame the use of buses as a mode of transportation, citing it as a dangerous form of travel. However, many developed countries utilize buses for tourist groups and for mass land transportation. The difference in the Philippine context is the lack of respect for safety regulations and the lack of enforcement of these regulations.
Such rules and procedures were put in place to guarantee the safety of the consumers, to eschew these regulations is criminal and the bus operators should then be treated as such by law enforcement agencies.