Highway Bus Explosion Caused by Makeshift Gas Tank

PALALA, Bong – A fire that gutted a 36-seater bus on Tuesday, Oct. 3 along the Suakoko Highway was found to have been started by a container filled with fuel stored at the back of the bus.

Passengers reported that the container was being used as a gas tank for the bus.

The fire started on the bus at approximately 9:00 a.m. while the Amos Transport Service bus was in transit from Ganta to Monrovia.

According to passengers who were riding the bus, the bus was overloaded with 56 people including some pregnant women and children. All passengers escaped safely.

Edwin Twah was one of the passengers on the bus. He said he knew that the condition of the bus was not satisfactory but he was in a hurry to get to Monrovia and had no other option for transportation.

Twah said the troubles began when the vehicle approached a curve in the highway near Palala. At this time, there was a loud sound from the bottom of the bus and the passengers seated at the back started complaining of smoke.

Even after the passengers asked the driver to stop the bus, Twah said he kept speeding until the smoke intensified.

“It was terrible, but we managed to get out,” Twah said. “The driver, in tears, escaped out of fear, and the conductor too is nowhere to be found with our money.”

Another passenger on the bus, Moses Manbia, called for better regulation of commercial vehicles.

Manbia said he thinks the container must have melted and exploded, resulting in the burning of the vehicle.

“The Transport Ministry needs to work hard in inspecting every transport car,” he said. “Using container as gas tank at the back of a vehicle is risky.”

Both the Ministry of Transport and the Liberia National Police have been known to be complacent in enforcing traffic laws. For example, the Transport Ministry registers vehicles and permits drivers to drive on Liberia’s roads without conducting any inspection of the vehicles.

As a result, vehicles often lack functional headlights, seatbelts, brakes, and airbags.

Liberia has the third highest rate of traffic deaths in the world, with 1,448 deaths estimated to have occurred in 2013 and 33.7 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Featured photo by Rita Jlogbe

Rita Jlogbe

Rita Jlogbe is a junior student at the University of Liberia studying Mass Communications. She is an Internews Freedom of Information fellow and also a member of Internews Female Journalist Mentoring Fellowship.

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