Thimphu: Over-loading, negligent driving and mechanical failure have emerged as the probable causes of the Lam Peri bus accident which killed nine and injured 28 people on December 22.
While the director of the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), Tashi Norbu, said the driver will be held responsible for carrying 37 passengers, 15 more than the capacity, RSTA’s regional transport officer (RTO) in Thimphu, Dophu Dukpa, did not rule out mechanical failure as the cause.
According to Dophu Dukpa, the 24-year old driver claimed that the bus’ engine stopped all of a sudden at the accident spot. The steering got jammed, the brakes ceased to respond and the bus plunged 519 feet below the road.
Some of the passengers corroborated the driver’s claims. A 36-year old passenger who was sitting next to the driver said that the egine ceased to function when the bus reached the accident site.
“It is very difficult to come to any conclusion as to what caused the accident as the bus is totally damaged,” said the RSTA director. “We now have to discuss with the traffic police.”
He said the the driver would be charged with negligent driving and will not be allowed to drive throughout his life. The RSTA has formed a committee to decide on the course of action againt the driver while also stepping up vigilance along checkpoints and increasing highway patrolling to check on overloading.
The owner of Pelyab transport, Sangay Dorji, 44, from Paro, will also be held liable for carrying extra passengers. According to the RSTA act, for each extra passenger the bus was carrying, the owner has to pay Nu 1,000 as fine.
As required under law, Sangay Dorji paid a total of Nu 180,000 as compensation to the relatives of the deceased yesterday. In addition, he gave a semso of Nu 2,000 each to the passengers who were injured and admitted in the hospital.
“I am sad as because of my bus so many lives were lost,” he said. “He (the driver) was a good person who does not drink and I trusted him. But just to earn a little more money, he broke the rule and nine people were killed.”
On the command His Majesty the King, the Zhung Dratshang, presided over by the Yangbi Lopen, conducted the cremation rites for the deceased yesterday.
Meanwhile, His Holiness the Je Khenpo gave Semso to the bereaved families and instructed all the dratshangs in the 20 Dzongkhags to perform Moenlam and offer Karmi Tongchoed. His Holiness will also perform Mithrup Tongchoed in Punakha Dzong.
This is the third time that Pelyab transport has met with an accident, this year alone.