Bus transporting students loses wheel on Larnaca highway causes panic
By Iole Damaskinos

A school bus taking students on a trip to Larnaca lost a wheel and started to skid on the highway, terrifying students and teachers alike, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades confirmed on Thursday.

The bus was transporting students to Larnaca on Wednesday, when it lost a wheel near the Athienou exit. The wheel apparently hit the second bus in the convoy without causing any damages.

The driver of the first bus was able to immobilise the vehicle by the roadside and no students were hurt.

Transport Minister, Alexis Vafeades, acknowledged the incident on CyBC’s morning radio, saying it was a miracle that students escaped unscathed and that such an incident can absolutely not be repeated.

Asked about a similar instance that occurred in Limassol, the minister said he had been made aware of it and that the incident, also involving students, happened six months ago, with a private company bus that had been charted by a school.

In both cases, the buses were operating within the prescribed legal framework and all the required checks had been carried out, Vafeades said. Buses are required to be checked yearly, unlike private vehicles which are checked every two years.

Mass transport buses must be under twenty years old and the ones currently in operation are on average around 10 years old, the minister told Alphanews.

The bus in the latest incident was 14 years old and had a roadworthiness certificate issued in February and its tyres changed three days prior to the shocking event, the minister said, adding: “Clearly there is a gap in the system, which will be investigated.”

The fleets are being slowly upgraded, Vafeades told Alpha.

Another incident of an intercity bus in bad condition breaking down on the highway garnered attention on social media almost a year ago

Later in the day, the issue was brought up at a meeting of the house transport committee, where Vafeades was present.

He told the committee that he has requested a special report on the matter, and it was registered as an issue they would all be revisiting again in the future.

During his intervention, the minister stated that the written report from the department of road transport and the department of electromechanical services, which are running the investigation into the causes of the accident, is expected by Friday.

“This is very important investigation that is being done, because when we know exactly what happened, we will be able to make some decisions, take some measures, so that we don’t have the same incident again in the future,” Vafeades said.

He added that from the images it appears that the bus lost its tyres potentially due to the way they were placed.

“It looks like some wheels were unscrewed and that’s why they came off,” he said.

He said that the incident was shocking, adding that the state has placed significant importance on road safety and decreasing the number of accidents.