Man arrested in Malekula over four deaths

Police in Lakatoro have confirmed the arrest of a Mazda pick-up truck driver who was allegedly involved in a road accident last week on the island of Malekula.

Commander Malampa, David Bongranlie, says the alleged driver was detained over the weekend and is now in custody in Luganville awaiting his trial in court.

Commander Bongranlie says the accident was a very serious one that claimed four lives, two at the accident site and two later at the hospital.

Alick Leky, a Public Works Department Roadworthy Inspection Officer, says the vehicle involved in the accident had not had a roadworthy inspection for some years.

“When we are putting out schedules for roadworthy inspections, many vehicle owners are reliable in getting their vehicles checked but some are not reliable and fail to get their vehicles checked,” Mr Leky said.

Mr Leky said it was the responsibility of drivers and the police to ensure all vehicles are checked for roadworthiness.

“People must understand that the department doesn’t force drivers to get their vehicles checked for roadworthiness. We are not police officers who check vehicles on the roads.

“Any vehicles that do not go through roadworthy inspections, have no right to be driven on public roads. This comes back to the police, they should be stopping vehicles and checking if they have proper papers to get on the roads, including the service drivers who are serving the public.”

Commander Bongranlie, says the police should have arrested the driver at the scene of the accident because his papers were allegedly not in order, but it had not been possible as he had returned to his home in northwest Malekula.

He says police also found that the driver had no driving license and had only got his learners license last week.

Mr Leky says, “Whenever there is a roadworthy inspection, we always advise drivers to fix their vehicles if they have parts of their vehicles not working properly before they are allowed to get on the roads.”

He says, after an inspection, when vehicle owners do the necessary repairs to their vehicle, they must return for a second roadworthy inspection before they can drive the car on the roads.

“Many drivers have not been following government instructions and accidents then happen, like the recent one in Malekula that took four lives,” he said.

“I am strongly appealing to vehicle owners that even if you have just bought a new vehicle, it needs to be checked by the Public Works Department to ensure it is safe before you can drive it on the roads.

“Drivers need to follow traffic laws properly and must get their vehicles checked for roadworthiness so we can ensure their vehicles are okay to be driven on our roads because the lives of passengers are in their hands.”

Police in Malampa are also calling on vehicle drivers and owners to make sure their vehicles are in good condition before getting on the roads.

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