Corruption plays a large role in bus tragedy

The Markham Valley bus tragedy left at least 38 people dead

Last Tuesday afternoon two buses collided on the Highlands Highway in the Markham Valley with tragic consequences. At least 37 people died at the scene of the accident at Ragiampum village, 130 kilometres from Lae and a further 3 victims were reported to have died later in hospital.

The two 25 seater buses crashed head-on when their drivers both swerved to avoid potholes in the road. Both buses were reported to have been travelling at more than 100km/hour at the time of the accident.

PNG roads are notoriously bad – most are unsealed and large potholes are common as funds earmarked for road maintenance are misused or stolen and what little maintennce does occur is often of poor quality.

Motor vehicle regulations are commonly ignored and dilapidated and unsafe vehicles can be seen everywhere. While drivers are rarely stopped for drunk driving or speeding, when they are most avoid prosecution by paying bribes to the police.

Dangerously overloaded vehicles are also a common sight and concerned leaders like former Deputy Governor of Simbu province and PMV (puclic motor vehicle) driver Garry Eremuge , complain many drivers are unqualified.

The tragic death toll from last week’s accident is just one more example of the terrible human price that is being paid for the widespread corruption that is thriving under the leadership of Prime Minister Michael Somare and his National Alliance government.

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