A SPEEDING pirate bus, reportedly racing another crashed and overturned in Tocumen sending 16 people to hospital on Thursday, July 21.
Statistics on pirate bus crashes are hard to come by as the Transit Authority (ATTT) regards them as private transport, but TVN Noticias has compiled some worrying figures as authorities turn a blind eye to the untrained and often inexperienced drivers ferrying 100,000 vulnerable lower-income workers a day.
In the last four years, 10 people have died in 20 “accidents” involving the minibus fleets whose owners are largely cloaked in secrecy, but believed by many to include,like the former fleets of diablos rojos, members of the National Assembly who have never been averse to earning extra dollars to pad their near $10,000 a month stipends.
The deadliest accident, according to TVN was in February 2016, when three people died in a frontal collision between a pirate and a freight car, after an apparent excess of speed on the highway to the town of Veracruz.
The same year a driver who crashed his bus into a home in Villa Luchin, Tocumen was killed.
An ATTT spokesman said they don’t keep track of “private transport injuries although the operators of the illegal system move over 100,000 people a day, according to experts.
TVN combed reports of traffic accidents involving pirate buses and 162 injured or seriously injured 75 of them last year when they traveled as passengers on buses on The Arraiján-La Chorrera, highway Tocumen, Loma Cová and the North Corridor.
So far this year, 58 people have been injured in pirate bus accidents.
Last year, an investigation by La Estrella de Panamá revealed that in the city there were 22 illegal bus routes. Earlier this year TVN found over 30 in front of “the impassive look of the authorities”
Pirate buses are making a killing, in more ways than one.