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December 12, 2019
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Slovak bus company caught on video repeatedly denying some Romani passengers service

19.9.2019 7:24
A bus driver in Spišská nová ves, Slovakia prevents Romani women from getting on board. (August 2019). (PHOTO: Štefan Polák)
A bus driver in Spišská nová ves, Slovakia prevents Romani women from getting on board. (August 2019). (PHOTO: Štefan Polák)

Eurobus is a firm from Slovakia whose lines have been plowing through the Košice Region there. The brand-new buses, however, are apparently unable to prevent the old-fashioned behavior of some of the firm's drivers, who are reportedly not always exactly helpful to Romani passengers.

The firm claims these incidents are examples of misunderstandings, but the eyewitness testimonies and video footage from the incidents bear witness to something else. News server Romea.cz has recorded two cases, both documented by eyewitness testimonies and video, in which drivers from the firm did not want allow Romani passengers on board.

On the company's Košice - Moldava nad Bodvou route, a Romani lady wanted to board the bus with her husband and children, but the driver refused to take them, saying he could not allow them to bring their pram on board. The family offered to fold up the pram and carry their infant, but the driver insisted on refusing.

"No other bus was available to us. The way the bus driver behaved would probably have killed you too, my husband and I were as polite as possible," the Romani lady wrote to the editors of PressTV.sk.

VIDEO

The bus driver called the police during the exchange. According to the affected family, police "let the bus go without us on board."

"Eventually the officers told us we should go complain to dispatching, which we did," they said. "We are even considering filing a report of a crime against the bus driver, because we have serious suspicions that in this case, it was discrimination."

News server Romea.cz contacted the Eurobus firm for comment, and they sent us a statement responding to the complaint that had been sent to them by the family involved. The statement says the driver already had another pram in use on board the vehicle and according to the bus operating rules he is not allowed to transport more than one pram on board.

According to Eurobus, the driver called the police because the family allegedly refused to leave the bus when he asked them to. Eurobus claims to see no misconduct by the driver, but does allege misconduct by the customers because they used their mobile phones to film the driver without his consent.

The firm's response also says it will leave it up to the driver to decide whether to file a report of a crime against the customers over the incident. Of course, there was no reason the driver could not have allowed the Romani family on board, because they had offered to fold up their pram and stow it, which means he would just have been transporting one pram in use on board.

What is apparent from video footage

The second case was described to us by an eyewitness named Štefan Polák, who followed another such situation as it unfolded. "I was standing at the bus station in Spišská nová ves. There were Romani passengers at the next stop over - I heard them asking the driver why he didn't want to let them on board. I took out my mobile phone and began recording," he told us.

Eva Čermáková of Eurobus responded to our editors about this incident by saying that "it is not apparent from the video that the passengers want to get on the bus. It is common to allow passengers to board the bus and to deal with them one by one, and in the beginning of the video it can be seen that as the driver is handling one passenger, others are waiting on the steps behind him. Because during the last transaction the others did not show interest in boarding, the driver says he believed they were taking a photograph, or rather, filming something, and that the group was waiting for the next connection ... We have not received a complaint from the passengers that the driver didn't want to take them."

More than one thing here indicates, however, that the driver is just making excuses. In the first place, an eyewitness heard the driver refuse to take the Romani passengers on board, which is why they hesitated to go up the bus steps.

In the second place, it is apparent from the video footage that the driver closes the door so that nobody else can board, even though he has not finished selling the last passenger a ticket. In the third place, the driver does not respond to the Romani passengers knocking on the door and calling to him, but drives away as fast as possible, despite the fact that the last woman to board the bus is still standing by his cabin buying her ticket.

VIDEO

"It's necessary to put an end to the everyday discrimination and harassment that Romani people in Europe have to live with. It would benefit all of society if everybody could feel like equal citizens," Zdeněk Ryšavý, director of ROMEA in the Czech Republic, told news server Romea.cz.

While Eurobus claims not to see their own drivers' errors, they are expressing a certain helpfulness. "Under no circumstances do we draw distinctions among our passengers. If we did, our buses would be half-empty in certain areas. Even though we do not see any misconduct on the part of our drivers, we will be thoroughly instructing them at our production meetings on how to proceed in such situations," Čermáková said.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Diskriminace, Slovensko, Služby, Sociální vyloučení



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