The Nicosia Municipality’s ambitious minibus campaign is quickly descending into chaos with legal issues continuing to plague the ambitious launch of the fleet for the capital’s city centre.
The launch – which was unveiled by Nicosa Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis – got off to worst possible start after it was initially discovered that the buses had begun operating—albeit on a pilot scheme basis – without acquiring the necessary permits.
The municipality had taken possession of the buses in December 2015 and waited 17 months before beginning the costly pilot scheme. It later emerged that the local authority had spent thousands of euros every month to pay for the drivers and other staff members whilst the buses stood idle as they waited for the permits to be issued.
The Communications Ministry issued what have been described as temporary permits to allow Nicosia Municipality to continue with the pilot scheme but media reports on Friday questioned their validity.
Phileleftheros reported that the ministry official who issued the temporary permits was not qualified to do so. According to the paper, only the Communications Minister Marios Demetriades or the Director of the Road Transport Department is instructed to by the Minister would have the jurisdiction to issue temporary permits.
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This also means the buses in the municipality fleet are not listed on the Licensing Authority’s registry of buses being used to carry the general public and have not been fitted with a ‘ΛΔΧ’ plate, indicating they are Public Use Buses.
The delay in permanent permits being issued also means the municipality, while having taken out insurance on the buses, has not been able to insure them in the same way as other vehicles used to transport the general public.
Other problems have arisen from the routes the buses follow and where they made their stops while concerns about the welfare of the bus drivers have emerged.
Up to four of the buses are parked opposite the Old GSP Stadium at any time of day and, because cars park on the other side of the street, passing vehicles have to navigate a much narrower road.
The fleet’s drivers, meanwhile, have complained they have nowhere to go to the toilet or rest between routes and say they have, over the past particularly hot days, been staying on board with the air-conditioning on, putting extra strain on public funds.
The only other alternative is for them to sit in the shade of a nearby apartment building’s entrance, something the residents have reportedly complained about.
Shopkeepers in the area are also understood to be upset by the buses blocking the view of their shop windows.