All bus models akin to the school bus that caught on fire earlier in the week will be taken off duty for engine checks, the transport ministry said in an announcement, adding on Sunday that the government will announce the upcoming week automatic fire extinguishing systems for buses will be acquired.
In an announcement on Saturday, following a school bus fire in Aglandjia, Nicosia on Friday, the ministry said that the engines of all models like the one that caught fire will be checked and they will be allowed back on the road once a certificate of maintenance is issued.
On Friday’s school bus incident, the ministry said that meetings have been held over the past two days regarding a fire that broke out in the bus engine carrying students “for reasons not yet ascertained”.
Officials from the transport ministry and representatives of the companies with which the Republic of Cyprus has contracted for public transport, participated in the meetings.
“In these meetings, it was said that the bus in question had an automatic fire extinguishing system and hand-held fire extinguishers, and the driver had been trained to handle such incidents,” the announcement stated.
Following these meetings, the ministry decided that all vehicles of the same type will be put out of service until their mechanical condition is examined and a maintenance certificate is issued by a specialist workshop of the manufacturing company.
“As the incident appears to be due to insufficient maintenance, all companies have been asked to submit certificates of maintenance, in accordance with the specifications of the manufacturing company, signed by a licenced vehicle technician, in accordance with the law,” the ministry said.
All companies that have undertaken public transport have also been asked to submit maintenance certificates and/or attestation from the manufacturer’s agency for the proper operation of the automatic fire extinguishing system on each bus, the statement added.
In addition, companies were asked to submit their accredited vehicle maintenance and driver training procedures.
On Friday, a bus a caught fire, whiles it was transporting forty students, who were safely evacuated after a driver trailing the bus alerted those on board that smoke was emanating from the vehicle’s rear.
Commenting, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades said the incident was serious and would be thoroughly investigated by the authorities.
He recalled that this was the fourth incident with public buses-including those transporting pupils- in the past several months, and while no injuries had been suffered to date, the matter of faulty, old, or badly maintained public buses must be rectified.
In May a bus on a school trip lost a wheel and skidded on the highway causing panic among students. More recently in October, a fire broke out in a bus in Ayia Napa, while in August a fire broke out in an intercity bus in Limassol.