A meeting has been set for Friday between Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos and the family of the 12-year-old pupil who was not allowed to board a school bus because she could not pay the fare on the first day of the school year.
Transport ministry official Christos Papamichael said that Karousos will meet the girl and her family at 5.30 on Friday afternoon, in the presence of the bus driver, to grant her a bus pass for the rest of the school year.
According to the girl’s brother Orfeas Pitsillides, she was left outside her school on Tuesday carrying around 20 books after a bus driver refused to let her on the bus because she could not pay for the ticket. As a result she had to walk some eight kilometres home.
He insinuated that the bus driver’s reaction was racially motivated as the girl is half-Jamaican. “It’s a shame we live in a society with so few people of colour. It was her first day of school, she went in happy and came back sad,” he said.
The incident drew the transport minister’s attention, who took to social media to condemn racial discrimination, saying that the ministry has “given clear instructions to bus companies about handling such incidents during the first days of school”.
However, in a written statement the Limassol bus company Emel said that it did not receive a complaint from the family, adding that it has nevertheless launched an investigation into the incident.
Emel added that drivers are instructed to be understanding in such cases, emphasising that it had not received any such complaints in its 11 years of service, nor has the driver, who reportedly has 26 years of experience.
Lastly the statement rejected claims of racial discrimination as Emel, and the specific bus route “serves pupils of all ethnicities without making any distinctions”.