The company that operated the open-top bus involved in a fatal accident in Żurrieq last April has blamed Transport Malta for what happened, holding it responsible for damages.

A 62-year-old Belgian man and a 37-year-old Spanish woman died, and 50 passengers were injured when the open, double-decker bus hit the branches of an overhanging tree.

In a judicial protest filed in the Civil Court, First Hall, City Sightseeing Malta Ltd accused Transport Malta failing its obligations under Maltese and EU laws to keep public roads safe.

Lawyer for City Sightseeing Malta Alessia Zammit McKeon listed a number of laws, EU directives and guidelines issued by Transport Malta and international road safety organisations which, it argues, were not observed by the transport regulator despite its obligations.

It particularly accused Transport Malta, which issued the licence to City Sightseeing to operate a service in the south of Malta according to a route designed by the regulator itself, of failing to abide by the law stipulating that it must conduct regular inspections on the routes licensed and ensure they were safe and free from any obstacles, including trees.

READ: What caused the tourist bus to hit the Żurrieq tree?

The judicial protest noted that according to rules and guidelines issued by Transport Malta in 2011, it was obliged to make regular road audits at least every three to five years and act upon any recommendations made.

The company argued that, despite a specific EU directive on road safety laying down that Transport Malta was also obliged to appoint a surveillance authority with the responsibility to observe, study and implement road audits on the safety of arterial and distributary roads, nothing had been done and the regulator had failed to respect the law.

City Sightseeing Malta referred to regulations citing the height permitted for trees that protrude onto public roads used by double-decker buses on tourist routes.

Dr Zammit McKeon said that City Sightseeing Malta had suffered damages and a loss of reputation because of what had happened and was now holding Transport Malta responsible for the consequences.

It is not known whether the magisterial inquiry has been concluded and, if so, what the findings were.

Scotsman Simon Morrison, who nearly died from the injuries he sustained in the accident, told the Times of Malta last week he was upset that he had been given very little information by the Maltese authorities.

Mr Morrison said that the only response he had received was that the accident investigations were still ongoing.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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