Govt. considers "life in jail" for reckless bus drivers
The Minister of Police, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has promised tougher penalties for reckless bus drivers.
Tuilaepa gave the undertaking during his weekly media programme, in response to the bus crash at Auala Savai'i on Monday morning, which saw more than 20 students hospital with serious injuries.
The crash has been blamed on speeding and recklessness.
Tuilaepa said the Government will not just sit by and allow bus drivers to do this to members of the public.
“We have been talking about the wooden buses on numerous occasions," he said. "It appears the structure of the wooden buses are being questioned and yet it is the driver that operates the bus."
Tuilaepa suggested that a tougher penalty might get the bus drivers to be more careful.
“The penalty will be life in jail. The government has had enough of these bus drivers acting stupid on the road. And the bus owner will receive a harsher penalty than the driver,” he said.
Savai'i-based Police also came under scrutiny during the radio programme.
“It is clear that the Police Officers are not doing their job. And if the Commissioner of Police is listening to this programme right now, do something about the officers stationed in Savai'i. They are not doing their job.
“They should be fired from the Ministry," he said.
There were 60 passengers in the bus when it crashed on Monday morning, compelling Tuilaepa to ask why the bus had more passengers, when only 33 should be on board at any one time.
“And so the law will change to lean heavily on the bus owner and the driver," he added.
Earlier this week, Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil said the Lady Samoa bus was overloaded.
“Speeding was a contributing factor," he said and indicated the bus had more than 50 passengers when the driver lost control and the bus flipped. The majority of them were students.
Last year January, a wooden bus flipped several times landing on its roof and claimed three lives.
At the time Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, said a total of 46 passengers were on the bus including the three people who died.