YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Dozens of owners of obsolete buses again gathered in front of the government building in central Yerevan on Tuesday to protest a municipal ban on transporting passengers in the capital. The ban–which was imposed by Yerevan mayor Suren Abrahamian and took effect this month–extends to those old Soviet-made buses that have only one passenger door. The measure was motivated by security concerns following a series of deadly bus accidents in recent years.
Speaking to RFE/RL–the protesters said the ban deprives them of their sole source of living and supporting their families. Government officials put the number of affected buses at 160–but the drivers’ estimate is 800. The ministry of transport announced last month a gradual replacement with foreign funding of the country’s bus fleet. The first batch of Japanese Mitsubishi buses is due to arrive later this year. Officials have pledged to select new public transport personnel among the unemployed bus drivers on a competitive basis.