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Cost, logistics cited in Samoa road switch lawsuit

By Alan Ah Mu APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, August 22, 2009) - Putting in new doors for timber framed buses will take just under two years.

That’s just for the buses in Savai΄i Island alone.

That was the evidence of the president of the association of bus owners on the big island, Le Laulu Tiatia.

Testifying in the court case against the road switch, Le Laulu said there are 48 licensed buses operating in Savai΄i.

Only one person, Koli Taefu, can change doors of buses, he said.

Mr Taefu’s calculation is that it would take two weeks to change the door of one bus, the witness said.

It would take 100 weeks to change the doors of buses in Savai΄i, he said.

The court heard that Land Transport Authority (LTA) ordered new doors for buses be cut on the left side of the vehicles on 1 February this year.

On the 26th of that month Le Laulu said LTA told association members to stop until further notice.

On 11 August LTA told members to cut new doors to be placed behind the drivers.

The doors are to be covered with a metal covering until the road switch takes effect on 7 September, they were told.

LTA said each door change would cost WST1,500.

Bus owners would not have to pay licensing fees for six months, LTA said.

Le Laulu said it would cost WST33,186 [US$13,000] to change a door of a bus.

Associated changes would have to be made along with it, like the location of the seats, petrol tank, he told the court.

No bus owner can afford WST33,000, he said.

They can’t comply with LTA’s instructions by 7 September, he said.

However a witness for the government, Aiono Afaese, said he has already modified ten of his buses.

The manager of the Queen Poto said it cost WST1,500 to modify each bus.

WST1,000 [US$400] of that was spent for labour provided by Uale Taefu, WST500 was for the materials needed.

But under questioning by PASS lawyer Maposua Solomona Toailoa, Aiono said none of his ten buses with the new doors are working.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Land Transport Authority.

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