The Armenian government is pressing for a stricter regulation of transport companies after another Armenian bus crash in Russia left five passengers dead and 27 others injured, Transport Minister Vahan Martirosian said on Wednesday.
The bus bound for Yerevan collided with a heavy truck in Russia's North Caucasus region of North Ossetia early on October 14. The truck was reportedly parked on a roadside near the city of Beslan.
According to Martirosian’s deputy Aram Arsenian, it is still not clear what caused the deadly accident as Russian authorities are continuing their investigation.
The crash happened almost one year after nine Armenian passengers of another Yerevan-bound bus died when it drove off a highway in Russia’s Tula region just south of Moscow. Russian police officials suggested at the time that the bus driver or a technical malfunction were responsible for the crash.
Shortly after the November 2015 accident, the Armenian government announced plans to toughen licensing requirements for private transport firms providing bus services in and outside Armenia. The Ministry of Transport and Communications said it drafted a corresponding bill submitted to parliament.
The National Assembly has yet to pass the bill, however. Martirosian, who was appointed transport minister last month, said he is now trying to accelerate its passage.
“I am dealing with that,” Martirosian told a news conference. “I have contacted the National Assembly, and maybe we will try to push it through under an accelerated procedure. Right now I can’t say when it will happen, but we are working on it.”
Speaking at the news conference, Arsenian stressed the need for a “strict oversight” of private firms that claim to bus people to and from Russia on a non-regular basis and are therefore exempt from most of the existing technical and financial regulations. He said that in fact they maintain regular bus services with Russia.
“On paper, we have no regular bus services with Russia,” said the deputy minister. “But [in reality] all carriers have regular services under the guise of charter services.”