Raiwaqa Buses must compensate

29/05/2014 10:31

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on Raiwaqa Buses Limited to compensate the 35 school children for their injuries and pain, caused to them in a bus accident on Wednesday.

And, the Council is calling on the relevant authorities to scrutinize Raiwaqa Buses Limited (RBL) as this is not the first time that the operator’s buses have been involved in a serious accident. In August 2008, one of its buses burned near Sigatoka killing 12 innocent passengers. In June last year, another RBL bus caught fire near the Suva Bus Stand when passengers had to jump for their lives when one of their fleets caught fire.

In all this – the innocent commuters end up paying a price – physically, financially and emotionally.

The Council is urging Raiwaqa Buses Ltd to get their acts together and immediately compensate those affected in Wednesday’s accident. There should not be any delays like the 2008 bus fire where passengers had to take the matter to court to claim Third Party insurance. A judgement on the case was made in 2012, four years after the incident where the bus company’s insurance provider was required to pay compensation.

The school students are left to fight for their lives in which three had to go through emergency surgery, after the bus they were travelling in veered off Kubukawa Rd and rolled down a slope in Wakanisila settlement in Nasinu.

This traumatic experience not only gave them physical pain but has put financial burden on their family to cope with their medical bills, some of them taking leave form work to attend to their children – why should the parents bear the cost?

When they sent their children to school in the bus, they paid the bus fare thus it is the responsibility of the bus company to provide the service with safety.

It is time to also review the route licenses given to the bus companies to operate from as some bus companies have gone complacent – they keep driving on their routes without taking any responsibility of improving their fleets. Route licenses should be reviewed and accident history should be an important benchmark used. This will allow for bad operators to lose their license and give chance to better service providers to take over.

We urge the Land Transport Authority to immediately remove these buses off our roads even if it means giving the route license to another company. The high-risk operators do not deserve route licenses to be in bus business.

The Council believes that bus companies who have high incidents of bus fires, mechanical breakdowns, smoke emissions and have worn-out parts should be put on notice by the LTA.

Our roads should not have any place for these