Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos has ordered a probe into three incidents in as many weeks investigating possible safety faults on buses employed by the Cyprus Public Transport company, which took over the Nicosia and Larnaca urban public networks on July 5.
The probe follows a series of events involving buses moving on their own, with one of them leading to the death of a bus driver in Nicosia, who was crushed by his own vehicle when he stepped out for an inspection.
The incident is still under review, with workers’ union PEO issuing a statement calling for a full investigation into “other factors” such as fatigue caused by the company over-working its drivers.
Karousos has asked the ministry’s Road Transport Department and the Electromechanical Services to undertake a full report on possible safety faults and to compare the safety systems of the previous buses with the ones employed by the new contractor.
The minister ordered the probe after the latest incident in Nicosia on Saturday when a bus moved backwards on its own and hit a stop sign.
A spokesman said that said that he was note aware if the ministry is thinking of suspending the company’s fleet of about 200 buses, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Cyprus Public Transport has also been under fire from PEO union officials over the company’s plans to introduce a split-shift schedule for bus drivers over a seven-day schedule.
Split-shifts, designed for employees’ workdays to be split into two or more parts including breaks between shifts, would still include days off while also requiring drivers to sometimes work a weekend shift on normal salary.
In an announcement, the union has claimed that the company has not adequately trained staff on the new buses’ safety features.
In response to the union’s claims the company has said that they have taken steps to further educate staff on safety features.
Cyprus Public Transport is an umbrella company, formed by MLKP a consortium of Malta Lines and Kapnos Airport Shuttle Ltd, which took over the capital’s and Larnaca’s urban bus networks after being awarded the contract for ten years in a public tender.