The National, Thursday, June 9th 2011
By YVONNE HAIP
THE continuous pleas for PMV drivers, operating the well known tulait-tulait buses, transporting passengers and goods from the coast to the highlands, to be well rested before driving, has taken its toll.
During the early hours of Tuesday morning, a 25-seater Toyota bus, laden with 160 betelnut bags bound for Mt Hagen, crashed along the highway in Kundiawa, Chimbu, after the driver allegedly fell asleep while driving.
Chimbu police commander Supt John Kale told The National from Port Moresby that the bus driver had reportedly dozed off while driving and had lost control of the vehicle.
Kale said there were no other passengers except Western Highlanders who hired the vehicle to transport their betelnut to Mt Hagen from Wewak, East Sepik, via Madang, when the bus crashed.
He said a woman, reportedly from Southern Highlands, who had been sitting on a front seat on the left side of the bus, sustained injuries and had been admitted to Kundiawa hospital.
He said the left side of the vehicle, where the woman passenger had been sitting, was damaged, while the woman was pinned to the bus and it took a while before she could be removed.
The vehicle, which could have been looted by local bystanders, was saved by Kundiawa police who arrived at the scene soon after the accident.
This accident had been anticipated by concerned leaders who had previously called for such tulait-tulait trips to be stopped as it was a risk to the lives of those who were travelling.
However, the tulait-tulait buses have outrun the normal day trips and commuters, including students attending tertiary institutions in Madang and Lae, prefer to travel on these buses.
The trips are also convenient for people who have to change buses and catch early buses to travel on to Enga and Southern Highlands.
The tulait-tulait buses leave Lae and Madang in late afternoon with passengers, travel through the night, and arrive in Mt Hagen and Kundiawa at daybreak.