The administrative court has upheld a prior decision by the government to award a 10-year contract for the running of Nicosia bus services, dismissing action brought against that decision by Osel (Transportation Organisation of Nicosia District), the current holder of the concession.
In its ruling on Monday, the court also voided an injunction previously secured by Osel that temporarily prevented the transport ministry from signing the contract with the new concessionaire unless and until the action to dismiss were adjudicated.
The finding effectively means the transport ministry is now able to finalise the contract with the winner of the tender the Malta Lines Ltd and Kapnos Airport Shuttle Ltd MLKP consortium.
Following a competition, the 10-year contract for the Nicosia bus services was initially awarded to MLKP in November 2019 for €175m, plus another €83m under the option to extend the contract by five more years.
But the government decision was put on hold in December when Osel filed an action with the administrative court.
Osel argued that MLKP did not satisfy core criteria set out in the tender documents and should thus have been disqualified from the competition. These included MLKP’s alleged failure to provide evidence of prior experience in the transport business.
But in its ruling, the court dismissed all legal arguments set forth by Osel.
Although the transport ministry is free to sign the contract with MLKP, it’s expected that it will nevertheless wait until three other related court cases are resolved.
The other cases relate to similar actions filed – likewise by the current concessionaires – against the new contracts awarded to MLKP for the Larnaca, Famagusta and intercity bus routes.
The case concerning Famagusta is expected to be heard on Wednesday, while the first hearing on the intercity routes is scheduled for January 27. Lastly, the case concerning the Larnaca bus service is already underway, and a final judgment is expected soon.
It’s understood that the new 10-year contracts – for the period 2020 to 2030 – kick in on July 5.