Pirate buses blindside law, boost road carnage

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A SPEEDING  pirate bus, reportedly racing another crashed and overturned in Tocumen sending  16  people to hospital on Thursday, July 21.

The incident came only 10 days after a similar crash which killed a 37-year old woman passenger and left a 19- year-old university student in a coma fighting for her life with a punctured lung.

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.

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