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Bus Owner urges compliance

A bus owner says all public bus operators should comply with social distancing laws, but he will not get his fleet back on the road until the state of emergency (S.O.E.) is lifted.

Businessman of Vaitele-Fou and Fa’afili Transport owner, Lesaisaea Tasesa Loli, told the Samoa Observer that all bus operators including his company are obligated to follow the law put in place by the Government to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19.

"Whatever the Government tells us to do then we should follow that. If we look at this from another angle, it’s not only Samoa that’s affected, but the entire world,” he said.

“The fines are in place so that the law could be enforced. If you break the law, you break the law. If they say 20 passengers then just take 20. The only reason you would get a T$500 fine is because of the bus driver and his decisions to take more than 20 passengers. The bus driver shouldn’t take any more passengers if he counts that there are already 20 passengers on the bus.”

Lesaisaea said failure by bus drivers to enforce the 20 passengers per bus policy would incur fines from the authorities, but he acknowledged that getting bus drivers to ensure compliance is also difficult and any consequences will fall back on bus owners.

“Even though we have a business to run but everyone listens to the Government. I am not paying much attention to my buses right now, because it is hard for the bus drivers to limit the number of people boarding the bus. But what I know the fault falls onto the owner of the vehicle, not the driver.”

Public buses belonging to Fa’afili Transport are currently off the road, with Lesaisaea revealing that operating during the S.O.E. will result in losses for his company, as the returns after enforcing the 20 passengers per bus policy will fall short of covering the company’s diesel costs as well as repair costs.

“Even when I obey the law by taking only 20 passengers a day, most of the day’s earnings will go into filling up the bus with diesel and that isn’t the only thing, we have to think about any repairs the bus needs especially the tires and they are quite expensive,” he added.

“There are more than 10 buses that are on the Vaitele road which is quite a lot. I believe there are only four buses on this road that are currently operating with not many passengers. So there wouldn’t be any use for the buses to operate. It’s like you are just sending it out to get the diesel tank filled up and return with such a little amount that won’t cover any repairs the bus needs. For now, I would rather be patient and await the time where the buses can take the normal passenger limit.”

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