Drivers from five bus companies held a demonstration on Friday as the protracted process of finalising tenders for the 2020-2030 public transport system remains far from certain amid increasing tensions.
The process has been clogged up for months and great uncertainty remains despite July 5 having initially been set as the date for a new ten-year programme.
“There was a peaceful protest outside the temporary building of the House of Representatives this morning and no one was absent from work, while the routes operated as usual,” Dimitris Pantelis, president of the Osea bus company in Famagusta, told the Cyprus Mail.
More than 100 buses from Osea, Intercity, Osypa, Emel and Zenon companies took part in the demo outside the Philoxenia Conference Centre in Nicosia.
The companies released a joint statement on Friday, saying that: “We were surprised to see the auditor general celebrating in the news that the consortium won four of the six tenders.”
It quoted the AG as saying: “As soon as they were exposed to competition they were defeated.”
The joint statement then pointedly remarked that the AG makes a fuss about public money but that the upheaval of the tenders will bleed the public purse of millions of euros.
Pantelis said that significant irregularities have held up the process of awarding tenders, delaying the process.
He explained that the MLKP consortium was awarded the tenders in November but it was later cancelled by the administrative court. Since Osea was second in the competition, they should have then been awarded the tender, Pantelis said.
The ministry, however, has begun revaluating the Osea offer as well as that of MLKP consortium.
“What we’re saying is that efforts are being made to grant the other company the tender despite the fact that they were disqualified,” Pantelis said.
So far, MLKP consortium has been awarded the rights to operate the public bus system in Nicosia and Larnaca – set to begin on July 5.
The consortium, which is made up of Malta Lines and Kapnos Airport Shuttle Services, had initially been granted the rights to Famagusta and the intercity route, but this was later challenged in court.
As for Limassol and Paphos, Pantelis said that the ministry decided to cancel the process and start a new competition for tenders later in June.
“For InterCity – and Osea in Famagusta – we won the tenders in the administrative court (April 27 and April 7 respectively). Two months have gone by since then and the ministry has decided to revaluate their offer,” Pantelis said.
“The legal service decided a few days ago to appeal to the supreme court in disagreement with the administrative court.”
“The strange thing is this: since the legal service disagrees, why are they also doing a revaluation? It should have been an appeal or a revaluation, it can’t be both,” he said.