2 Aug 2013

PNG Police investigate deadly vehicle accident in East Sepik

6:18 pm on 2 August 2013

The police commander in Papua New Guinea's East Sepik says his investigators are waiting for a mechanical report before taking any action over the worst vehicle accident in the province.

The bus, known as a PMV, or public motor vehicle, crashed last Friday morning on its way into Wewak.

Chief superintendent Joseph Poma says that is more than the annual number of road deaths that typically occurs in the province.

Mr Poma says they are not yet sure what caused the crash but it appears the driver lost control on a slope as he approached the town.

Initial media reports were that 14 had died but chief superintendent Poma told Don Wiseman the actual figure was lower.

JOSEPH POMA: Ten died instantly, one died at the hospital, so it's a total of 11.

DON WISEMAN: Are there others in hospital now still?

JP: Yes about 23 I believe in the hospital and the traffic police are now conducting investigations and as I have said previously if the police investigation points to the travel failure then obviously we'll have to use travel charge for dangerous driving causing death.

DW: This sort of thing it's quite common in PNG isn't it?

"JP: In PNG it's quite common but in Sepik that's the first time we had one accident in which seven died and this one is the highest in Sepik."

DW: How many road deaths would you have in a year?

JP: Road deaths, there would be about ten in a year, but in one accident that's the highest amount.

DW: Does it raise questions for you about the quality of vehicles on the road?

JP: That's right yes, the quality of the vehicles and at the same time fatigue, the drivers you know they go they travel in and out and they go, they'll go back to their location about two or three or four hours drive back and they go rest a bit and they got to come back early in the morning again, they take about 11 or 12 at night to come back to town.

DW: Are there any rules in place to regulate that?

JP: In terms of fatigue, no but we have no laws in terms of fatigue but you know drivers should use their common sense and that they travel in and out every day but in other countries yes I know they've got regulations that you need to have certain times, certain periods of rest before you go for another trip but in PNG no there's no law for that.

DW: What about the quality of vehicles is that regulated?

JP: Well the traffic regulations require that every vehicle go for every six months, safety check every six months.

DW: Chances are there's nothing mechanically wrong with this car, this PMV.

JP: Well that's my assumption at the moment but aside from that that needs to be confirmed by the qualified mechanic to be able to confirm that, yes.