Officials from the Paphos bus company Osypa will meet transport minister Marios Demetriades today in an effort to solve the town’s bus strike that has been ongoing since Monday.
Residents and students who use the 300 or so routes are complaining over the strike which has seen more than 100 buses parked up in protest over what Osypa refer to as a ‘breach of contract’ by the ministry.
“This is disgusting, how can a company go on strike that provides such an important service for the public. Their apologies mean nothing, they should immediately get back to work and do the service they are paid to do, or they should be fired and a new company who is more professional, should be instated,” said student George Kyriacou, 15. He lives in a rural area outside Paphos and relies on the buses to take him to and from his school. There have been calls by parents that the school buses be excluded from the strike.
The strike is calculated to be affecting 15,000 passengers including 5,000 students.
Retirees, Angela and Robert Taylor chose Paphos to spend the months of December, January and February, something they do on an annual basis, to escape the inclement weather in the UK. They said they were appalled and disgusted by the strike.
“We are staying in Kato Paphos and use the bus service to get around as we don’t have access to a car. We use it to go shopping, to visit friends and to go out to eat. We are shocked by the strike and don’t understand how this is allowed to happen, they need to sort it out quickly. It will badly affect tourism,” they said.
Osypa chairman George Ioannides has placed responsibility for the strike on the ministry, and has said the buses will remain stationary until the state actively assisted in the renewal of the fleet.
Ioannides said it was unacceptable, that in Paphos, the city designated as the European Capital of Culture in 2017, buses lacked air conditioning and basic amenities for passengers.
Operations manager, Andreas Rodosthenous said: “We have 102 busses and more than half of them are very old and need replacing.” Generally, buses used in public transport are replaced after 16 years.
“The problem is a technical issue regarding what the ministry will pay. Currently, they are not willing to pay one hundred per cent of the cost and this has to be resolved,” Rodosthenous said.
Transport Minister Marios Demetriades has called the strike unnecessary and said that the ministry has given the green light to the renewal of the fleet, but didn’t agree to cover the costs of depreciation for more than the four years as stipulated in the contract.
Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos said the ministry must solve the problem. “They must immediately replace all of the buses. Most are more than ten years old and some are even 15 and 16 years old. They must be changed for the public’s security and safety,” he urged.