Categories: PanamaYour Man in Panama

Pirate buses blindside law, boost road carnage

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.

David Young:

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  • Traffic safety enforcement has never been a priority in Panama. For that matter no safety enforcement in any area is of much concern to the government. The authorities would rather spend millions of dollars on carnivals, and on other things of lesser importance rather than on the safety of their citizens.

    All you have to do is drive on any street at night to see public buses, taxis and private vehicles without any headlights and tail lights. Drivers licenses are given out without adequate testing. You can see many drivers speeding or being reckless, texting, drunk, etc. Cars are not inspected in earnest for safety issues. Holes in the road are left open for months without repair. Most streets do not have signs with street names so new drivers or tourist are wondering around confused. As long as public safety is neglected, Panama will always be third world. I sold my car last month. Too much stress.

    Uber is a much better alternative to driving, They still have to cope with the conditions, but at least they are doing the coping and not me.