Bus drivers face $500 fines or arrest
Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, has warned public buses to follow the law and avoid taking over 20 passengers if they do not want to be hit with a $200, $500 fine or even arrest.
Revised state of emergency (S.O.E.) orders issued last week by the Government have restricted passengers on public buses to 20, in order for social distancing rules to be applied within the buses.
However, the Commissioner has confirmed that a number of bus operators have been fined for breaching the S.O.E. orders.
"We have issued several fines. Some fines we have issued are buses that have not been compliant with the 20 passenger rule," he told Samoa Observer in a telephone interview.
"So we are getting reports that these guys are having passengers in excess in various areas and we have our outpost officers looking out for that. We have roadblocks as well just to confirm but if it is very clear that the bus is full then we don't need a roadblock we just do our stopping.”
Buses that breached the SOE orders have been issued with tickets, according to Fuiavaili'ili and in one case a bus has been fined twice. The first ticket that is served on a bus driver is T$200, reoffending will attract a T$500 fine and serial offending will result in an arrest being made by the Police.
The Commissioner added: "We had issued tickets on that violation, some of them are not just one ticket, it's the same bus driver doing it again. The first ticket is $200 and the second ticket $500. And then it goes on from there and then it can be an arrest as well.”
The key concerns for the Police at this time is a violation of the S.O.E. orders as well as public safety, Fuiavaili'ili further emphasised.
"That is one of our main things right now is looking out for these buses. Sometimes on occasions, it's not just one, like 21 passengers or 22, there's many. I mean there are people sitting on the floor and people sitting on people's laps," he said.
"So we are looking at that, we are not just looking at it from the perspective of not obeying the order but also its a safety issue now. If they (the bus driver) are going to go way over and if it's reasonable and safe on that bus. It's not just a minor one, it's many.”