School bus lost its wheel nuts

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A probe into an incident of a school bus carrying students on an excursion to Larnaca losing two wheels on the Nicosia-Larnaca highway found that the wheel nuts were not fastened tight enough.

In comments to state radio CyBC, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades said that investigations into the incident confirmed findings, explaining that the tyres were replaced, probably by an unauthorised garage.

The minister said the tyres were replaced before the bus’s latest technical check.

Since its last inspection, the bus, used for school excursions, had travelled 36,000 km.

Vafeades said the bus involved in the incident was 14 years old and had a roadworthiness certificate issued in February, and its tyres were changed three days before the event.

He said the findings would be handed to the police for further investigations into whether criminal offences have been committed.

The minister said the company running the bus had not given any explanation, nor had they assumed any responsibility for the incident.

Authorities will be looking into tweaking the legislation to introduce heftier penalties for bus companies that do not keep their buses up to standards.

Earlier this week, the minister announced that the government would introduce tougher checks for transportation companies and their vehicles.

The Transport Ministry will prepare draft regulations for more frequent inspections of heavy vehicles over 10 years old every six months, which will be subject to public consultation.

Under the new measures, the Road Transport Department (TOM) will carry out random technical inspections of buses 10 years and older, while the entire passenger fleet of the owning company of the bus in question has been invited for a comprehensive inspection.

The incident with the bus losing its wheels while carrying high school students on an excursion to Larnaca took place on 10 May, on the Nicosia-Larnaca highway, near the exit for the village of Athienou.

No student was injured in the incident, as the bus driver was able to stop by the roadside.