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Buses back to normal by early next week says minister (Updated)

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Buses will be running back to normal by Monday or Wednesday the latest, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades said on Thursday, while students complained that the government has failed to properly inform them.

Speaking to CyBC in the morning, the minister said that the automatic fire extinguishing systems will be installed in the buses. Most affected are school buses.

He added that by Friday afternoon, bus companies are expected to inform the ministry how many extinguishing systems they have received. The minister said that an agreement was also made with the companies to install the systems over the weekend.

Commenting on the certification procedure for buses to be allowed back on the road, he said that licensed professionals will conduct the checks, while a supervisory check will be conducted by the road transport department.

On the rest of the bus fleet, he said that it is made up of new buses that are in a good condition.

Speaking about the contract the ministry has with companies, the minister said an officer has been appointed to investigate the matter, but that on his part it was clear that the companies were required to install the automatic fire extinguishing systems.

However, in an announcement issued on Thursday the student union (Psem) called out the government for failing to inform teachers and students about the actual plan the authorities are following.

They said that the government, more specifically the education ministry, needs to inform students on how that missed lessons will be made up.

Previously, Education Minister Athena Michaelidou said that extra lessons would be given for those affected by the buses issue, but did not go into detail about the plan.

On Tuesday, Vafeades said that a three-member committee of experts has been established to evaluate the various available systems which have been submitted to the government for potential use.

The committee also evaluated proposals submitted by bus companies, and on Wednesday Vafeades said that the committee approved most of the companies’ proposals.

“Yesterday the competent committee had reviewed and approved all four companies’ proposals. The good news is that they include equipment that can be brought in by plane, which means its arrival will be shorter, but the final news we’ll know by noon,” he said.

The impact of the bus withdrawals has been felt most strongly by schools with many buses not operating, inconveniencing thousands of students and their parents.

Hundreds of commuters were also impacted as some bus services were also halted.

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