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Famagusta bus drivers protest outside parliament (Updated)

Bus drivers on a demo last week

Bus drivers from five companies held two separate protests in Nicosia on Friday over transport concession contracts, one outside the presidential palace and the other one at the Philoxenia conference centre, which is temporarily housing Parliament.

Employees of Famagusta bus operator Osea were demonstrating outside the Philoxenia conference centre from 5am.

Referring to the contracts that Osea operated in the past decade, Pavlos Varnava, a spokesman for the staff said: “Employees decided last night on a spontaneous work stoppage and to go to Nicosia, demanding continued peace and progress in transport, as has been the case for the last 10 years.”

He added the organisation’s employees are deeply concerned about the way public transport is evolving and voiced concerns over the involvement of “Spanish interests”.

In his statement, Varnaba sent “a clear message to all involved” and urgently called for “respect for the decisions of the Cypriot courts to annul the consortium’s offer and the immediate signing of the contract with Osea.”

Thirty bus drivers from Osea and Intercity were outside the presidential palace, holding banners with slogans such as ‘We are no one’s slaves’.

The other three companies which joined the demonstrations were Limassol’s Emel, Larnaca’s Zenon and Paphos’ Osypa.

Varnava said the 30 buses were outside the palace for about half an hour with the purpose of sending the message to the president that the companies would claim their rights.

For today, he explained, there will be no attempt to talk to or meet with the president, nor will the employees hand over a memo.

The government must accept the judicial system and accept the decision of the court, he added.

“Based on the decisions of the Court of Justice, the companies Osea and Intercity take the contracts for the district of Famagusta and the offer to the company MLK Kapnos is considered invalid by the court.”

The current contracts, for the 2010-2020 period, are due to expire on July 4. The next ten-year concessions will be valid from July 2020 to July 2030.

To date, the MLKP consortium – a new player in the market – has been awarded the concessions to operate the public bus system in Nicosia and Larnaca from July 5.

The consortium, comprising Malta Lines and Kapnos Airport Shuttle Services, had initially also been granted the rights for Famagusta and the intercity route, but this was later challenged in court.

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