By Evie Andreou
Nicosia public bus company OSEL is awaiting a judicial ruling as regards the non-execution of the court order issued two days ago which obliges one of its shareholders to hand over the fleet at the Arediou passenger service station, which has been hijacked since Sunday, the company said in an announcement on Thursday.
The court order against OSEL shareholder Tasos Michaelides and members of his family came after he announced on Monday that he would not run his buses until the government took immediate action as regards his claims against OSEL management. He alleged that the company was cooking the books, cheating the state over fuel and bus maintenance costs and bribing officials. He also said that OSEL was withholding money which is rightfully his “out of vengeance”.
As of Sunday night he blocked the Arediou bus terminal with buses, and on Tuesday night, a member of his family dug a trench around the vehicles to prevent OSEL from taking them, as per the court order. The court order thus remains unexecuted, while police said that the case is being handled by OSEL’s lawyer, who is working the case based on civil law.
Meanwhile villagers of the affected areas, 42 villages in the Pitsilia area and south west of Nicosia, have been left without public transport for a fourth consecutive day.
Arediou community leader Ioannis Ioannou made yet another plea on Thursday to the ministry of transport and OSEL to find a solution. He said the trenches dug could be easily filled, “as long as there is good will from both sides”.
OSEL said in an announcement that they were taking all necessary actions “to remove the illegality and recover the buses and the Arediou passenger service station currently being hijacked by Tasos Michaelides and members of his family”.
OSEL, it said, believes that it is not productive to enter into public debate by commenting on various public statements of people who do not know the facts, and sometimes make claims “that are close to being absurd” and create false impressions among members of the public.
“The only yardstick of our actions is to restore service to passengers in the areas affected by the illegal actions of Tasos Michaelides,” it said.
“We assess that the only way of restoring legitimacy is the legal way and that’s why we turned toward that direction. We apologise again for the inconvenience to passengers,” it added.
The community leaders of the area had offered on Wednesday to act as mediators between the two sides, in an attempt to restore bus service in their communities.
They threatened to proceed with drastic measures if the issue was not resolved soon.