The Dominican Republic Institute of Traffic and Terrestrial Transport (known as Intrant) has announced new safety measures in the wake of a tourist bus crash in Bávaro, near Punta Cana, on October 6th. The fatal accident left three tourists dead – Karla Rodriguez Dionisio, a 33-year-old Peruvian, and two Argentinians, Valeria Paola Medina, 44 years old, and Valeria Victoria Brolvelli, 41 years old. Along with these tragic deaths, 40 more tourists were injured when the bus overturned after veering off the road trying to avoid a street obstacle on its way to Saona Island. The bus driver has since been arrested and is under investigation, as it was reported that the bus was traveling at high speed.
As the Dominican Republic continues to gain popularity as a travel destination, new resorts are being built, and airlines are commencing flights to several airports in the country. This means more tourists will bring more demand for tour buses which are integral to visiting the many coastal attractions such as beaches, parks, and viewpoints that the Dominican Republic has to offer.
Hugo Beras, executive director of Intrant held the first in a series of meetings with Martina Pepén, Governor of the province of La Altagracia, and Manolo Ramírez, director of the Tourism Police, among others, to discuss multiple necessary measures to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the country. Hugo noted that “this is a work meeting of interest to us as a government and to you as the main players in the tourism sector so that we can work with transparency and be able to have the necessary controls for the regulation and operation of companies.”
Out of the first meeting, it was announced that all tourist transport operators will be required to request and apply for new operational licenses. Beras announced, “As a State, starting tomorrow, we will start the Recertification operation so that all companies can get up to date and in order with their documentation, that is why we at Intrant are giving a period of 60 days so that we can all get in order”.
Although many bus operators see this new certification as a positive that will help legitimate companies gain trust among tourists, the 60-day deadline is expected to have many entities scrambling to ensure they can continue operations as normal with proper certification. The new certification includes more robust requirements such as GPS in all vehicles, seat belts, vehicle inspections, and a liability policy.
Taxi company certification is also getting a facelift, with new applications required to be submitted with items such as certificates of good conduct, a list of vehicles, a mercantile registry, and identity cards of drug testing done by each driver.
Along with these measures, Beras announced a new structure for requesting permits for new tourist transportation licenses in hopes that increased checks and balances will ensure that only qualified drivers and companies are able to conduct business in tourist hotspots. All registered vehicles will be required to clearly and uniformly present their certifications on their vehicles so tourists can feel confident they are taking safe transportation and authorities can pursue vehicles unlawfully transporting tourists.
As a final note, Hugo Beras assured tourists that immediate actions are being taken to ensure that this type of accident does not happen again in the short term. Intrant has immediately reduced speed at the site of the crash and is using the site as a comparative tool to reduce speed at similar intersections. New technology previously used on cargo transporters is being implemented to monitor recklessness, speed, and other measures. “We want to be very clear that, in a very short time, due to the actions we are taking, this type of situation will not happen again.”
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