Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov pledged on August 29 that there would be “no protection and no help for anyone” responsible for the Svoge bus crash disaster four days earlier, while his government announced that a new body would be set up to monitor road safety to avoid such accidents.
The August 24 2018 Svoge bus crash cost 17 lives and left 21 people injured, some critically. In the accident, the bus left the road when the bus driver allegedly exceeded the speed limit on a mountain pass that was being drenched with heavy rain. Investigators also are looking into whether the state of the road was a contributory factor.
Borissov, speaking at the start of a scheduled weekly Cabinet meeting, said: “I assure you that there will be no protection and no help for anyone.
“All processes in the state are very clearly regulated – there are competitions, construction supervision and acceptance committees where everyone signs and is accountable. Any official who has not done his job will be prosecuted and political responsibility will be sought,” Borissov said.
Investigators have visited the offices of two firms reportedly involved in the repair of the road stretch a few years ago, Trace Group and Mega-Invest. Both firms deny culpability.
Borissov said that it would be a matter of days before the investigation was completed.
“I urge the opposition to wait for a few days until the National Investigation Service and the prosecution complete the checks. I can assure them that, as always, we have never pitied anyone. Wherever the guilt is, there will be the responsibility.”
Speaking at a briefing after the Cabinet meeting and after ministers, representatives of state institutionsa and the Road Safety Institute discussed the prevention of road accidents, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said that a new government body will be set up specifically to monitor road safety to avoid serious incidents such as that at Svoge.
“We have been discussing how the whole body of government should be changed on the subject of road safety, we are all unanimous that the change must be what we have taken as a matter of principle today: all the departments and functions that are relevant to the subject – the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Regional Development, the Road Infrastructure Agency, other departments, including the Ministry of Education and Science, should consolidate into a structure with direct responsibilities related to the road safety policy” Donchev said.
In his words, this would avoid “the typical, especially in a critical situation, division of responsibilities”, and there would not be the question of which of all institutions is most responsible for irregularities and accidents.
“The logic is not to take away functions, I am quick to say that the Traffic Police remain at the Interior Ministry.”
Donchev said that the new unit would “exercise strong control over all other state services,” explained Donchev.
He said that this would be a completely new structure with a concentration of powers. The new unit – a state agency or commission – will not be subordinate to any ministry, but possibly directly to the Cabinet.
Talks about the establishment of the control body were to start immediately on August 29. No new posts would be created for it, but specialists would be transferred from the relevant departments, Donchev said.
Bogdan Milkov of the Institute for Road Safety welcomed the move and said that the problem of traffic accidents is not a political one but could be resolved at a political level.
On August 28, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party called on the government to resign over the Svoge bus crash.
(Photo: Julia Borysewicz/freeimages.com)