Overloaded School Taxi-Trucks Cause Public Outcry

Source: Vientiane Times

The Vientiane Traffic Police Department and local officials are issuing a joint warning to the drivers of tuk-tuks and pickup trucks who regularly ferry schoolchildren to and from classes each day at secondary schools in Naxaithong district.

Children’s parents expressed serious concern after seeing a photo of a large group of students piled onto a school taxi-truck on Facebook yesterday. Some children were hanging perilously onto the back of the vehicle while others were sitting on top.

The picture was a graphic reminder of the perils that children face on their daily school run, and the negligence displayed by taxi-truck drivers. The dangerous conditions that result grossly infringe the traffic regulations and put children’s lives at risk.

An official at the Vientiane Traffic Police Department told Vientiane Times the photo was taken recently in Naxaithong district.

The department and local officials are meeting to discuss how best to deal with the drivers who operate these vehicles and plan to issue them with warnings about the gravity of the situation.

The department has previously made urgent pleas to transport operators not to overload their vehicles with passengers and baggage as it greatly increases the risk of a serious accident. Unfortunately, many drivers continue to ignore these warnings and inflict dangerous conditions on their passengers.

School taxi-truck risk operators in Naxaithong district who continue to violate the regulations will be fined and punished according to the law if drivers are caught doing the same thing again, an official said.

Deputy Director of the Vientiane Education and Sports Department, Mr Soutthany Xayasan, said the department often makes calls to local officials to inform them that schools should pay more attention to students’ travel arrangements, both in urban and rural areas of Vientiane, especially as more and more accidents occur on the city’s main roads.

He said the department would partner with school officials to tackle the problem and it must be stopped. The department will bring the matter to the attention of all schools in Vientiane, not just those in Naxaithong district.

Mr Soutthany added that the authorities should enforce the traffic regulations and penalise wrongdoers, especially school taxi-truck operators whose actions were irresponsible and inconsiderate as well as being against the law.

He warned that these operators should not be negligent when driving children to and from school and should consider the possible consequences of their actions.

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