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Bendy buses: Only half of bendy buses scrapped after export plan collapse

The buses cannot be used in Malta

Three bendy buses were destroyed in a raging fire at San Ġwann last week. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Three bendy buses were destroyed in a raging fire at San Ġwann last week. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

A company which more than three years ago bought the 81 former Arriva bendy buses but failed to export them, has still not managed to scrap half of them, the Times of Malta is informed.

Last week’s fire at a large yard in San Ġwann, belonging to Trihills Heavy Industry, destroyed three of the bendy buses.

Asked by this newspaper why the buses are still in the yard after more than three years, a company spokesman said some 30 buses had already been sold for scrap.

However, he admitted that the process was slow and more buses were expected to be sold for scrap in the coming weeks.

According to the original tender issued by the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure in 2014, the company which was to buy the vehicles had to export them as soon as possible.

“The buses are not to be kept in Malta and or Gozo beyond four weeks from the acceptance of the proposal,” the tender stated.

In their bid, the winning company had said the buses would be exported to a transport company in ‘Sudan’.

However, it now appears that this deal fell through.

“It is true that we were originally going to export them but the deal we had struck has not materialised,” the spokesman said.

In order to close the deal, the Transport Ministry, then led by Joe Mizzi, had arranged to give a 25 per cent discount on the original offer by the winning company on condition the buses would be scrapped if not exported.

Instead of receiving €601,000 for the 81 buses, the ministry accepted €460,000 on condition that all the buses would be scrapped. However, three years later, less than half have been sent to the scrapyard.

Sources close to the Transport Ministry told this newspaper that despite the contract having been violated twice, no action was taken to ensure all the conditions were observed.

“Originally, the other bidders who had put in their bid to buy the buses on condition of exporting them were fuming over the deal. However, none of them filed any case in court,” a Transport Ministry official told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.

“Thus, there is no interest whatsoever for the government to intervene... for us, it is one problem less,” he said.

The bendy buses were introduced by Arriva in 2011. However, they proved to be very unpopular as many thought they were the cause of increased traffic and were too large for our roads.

Arriva pulled out of Malta in 2014 and was replaced by Autobuses de Leon. The government increased threefold its annual subsidy to the new operators.

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