Around 200 pupils but also people living in rural areas of Larnaca were forced to seek other ways of getting to school and work on Thursday after the district’s bus company announced it was discontinuing its service to their areas indefinitely.
Zenon announced that it will be interrupting its school bus routes to and from kindergartens and primary schools in Zygi, Maroni, Lefkara, high-schools in Lefkara, Athienou and Vergina, and the Vergina lyceum.
The interruption affects pupils living in Tochni, Choirokitia, Skarinou, Maroni, Psematismenos, Pentaschinos, Ayios Theodoros, Kofinou, Skarinou, Agglisides, Alethriko, Mari, Zygi and Athienou.
The decision, was due to measures taken by a group of Zenon shareholders.
According to Zenon director, Loukas Louka, the problem was caused by a “syndicate of shareholders” in the higher areas of Larnaca who, while they are registered as drivers with the company, refused to do the work but insisted on getting paid.
He added that some shareholders had even registered their wives as bus drivers.
Without elaborating whether the company had agreed to that arrangement, Louka told the Cyprus News Agency that in the past four months things had to change due to the “tragic” financial situation of the company. Zenon, he said, owes around €3m.
“It had been agreed for measures to be taken aiming at the company’s rescue,” Louka said, but “as some of the shareholders were not used to working but only getting paid, there have been protests, even threats”.
The company, he said, informed these shareholders that “they would be paid only for the bus routes they were carrying out and would not receive full salary without running all the scheduled routes”.
Louka said the company was forced to notify the police to protect their staff and passengers after the shareholders in question threatened drivers and other shareholders.
Zenon had tried on Wednesday night to arrange the continuation of the affected routes but according to reports, a number of buses were found with flat tires, believed to have been a deliberate act to prevent them from running.
Trade union reps told the Cyprus News Agency that many irregularities take place concerning Zenon shareholders in the particular areas in Larnaca. They are known by the transport ministry.
Lefkara Mayor, Sofoklis Sofokleous, said in a written statement that the behaviour of some bus drivers was “unacceptable, provocative and immoral”.
He added that this concerns not a work stoppage or a strike but rather “fiefdoms that need to be wrecked”.