23 killed in two road accidents involving transport co-ops in Ecuador

Around 40 Ecuadorians lost their lives last month due to road accidents

Two Ecuadorian transport co-ops have been suspended by the National Transit Agency following accidents involving their fleet.

On 12 August a coach from worker co-op Cooperativa Señor de los Milagros, which runs a fleet of 54 vehicles, was overturned on the Cuenca-Molleturo highway, causing the death of 12 fans of the Barcelona SC football club and Ecuador. Another 30 were severely injured. The fans were traveling back from a match between their team and Deportivo Cuenca.

The co-op had a permit to operate in the Guayas province but did not have an authorisation to operate in the Azuay province, where the accident took place. The last technical review of the vehicle had taken place in January 2018, according to Ecuador’s Transit Commission.

The authorities are currently examining the internal processes of the co-op to determine the sanctions required. They suggested that passengers used the services of the co-op Santa Lucía instead, which covers similar routes.

The co-op is also in discussion with the families of five survivors, some of who may need more than six months to recover from the accident. The relatives want the co-operative to cover the medical expenses and ask for the suspension not to be removed. The co-op is paying US$5,000 through the insurance provider.

The drivers, who own the vehicles, wish to start working again, arguing that they have debts to cover due to the accident and that being out of work leads them into more debts.

Another deadly accident on 1 September resulted in 11 people losing their lives, with 37 others in a critical condition. The accident involved a bus from the co-operative Viajeros Internacional.

The president of the union of transport co-ops of the Azuay province, Patricio Picón, told the local press that the accident occurred after the driver made a sharp manoeuvre to avoid people walking on the road. With the road being wet and fog affecting his vision, the vehicle was overturned. Nineteen buses belonging to the co-op continue to operate.

The driver of the bus disappeared following the accident. A search for him is undergoing at the moment.

A third accident took place on 14 August when a bus collided with an SUV between the towns of Pifo and Papallacta. The turn where the accident occurred is known by locals as the “devil’s curve”. The bus belonged to Colombian company Cotrans and was transporting people from Colombia and Venezuela. Twenty-four lost their lives while14 are being treated in hospital.

Around 40 Ecuadorians lost their lives in August alone due to road accidents, a common occurrence in the country where an average of seven people are lose their lives every day in traffic.