More than 300 Czech tourists were left stranded at airports in Brno and Burgas, Bulgaria, when a return charter flight from the Czech Republic failed to depart on Wednesday due to a technical fault. Around 100 spent the night at Burgas airport while others transferred to a hotel, the spokesman for the Association of Czech Tour Operators and Agencies Tomio Okamura said. Central Charter Airlines, the company in question, commissioned two extra planes to deal with the situation. According to EU regulations individual airlines – and not tour operators – carry responsibility for flight delays and flight cancelation, Mr Okamura said.
Vít Barta, the new minister of transport, has said that he is planning to examine all of his ministry’s contracts and tenders, some of which he considers outrageously wasteful. At a press conference on Monday, Mr Barta said that the ministry’s contract with the company Kapsch was particularly suspicious. The firm won a 22- billion-crown tender to build the country’s toll system years ago, but is still receiving money from the ministry thanks to certain clauses in the contract. Mr Barta has also put on hold any new public tenders, with the exception of two: the purchase of salt and vehicles needed for winter road maintenance.
Two police cars collided in Prague on Saturday evening, the news website idnes.cz reported. The vehicles, both using their sirens, were in pursuit of another car when they crashed into one another at a crossroads in the district of Holešovice. Although one of the police cars came to a halt on its roof, there were no injuries. The driver they were pursuing, who had sped off when challenged to pull over for a roadside control, managed to escape.
Police are stepping up controls following a high number of deaths on Czech roads at the start of the holiday season. More officers than usual will be on duty on the country’s road network throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, a major nationwide road safety operation will begin on Monday and also involve the police services in states neighbouring the Czech Republic. So far this month around 80 people have died in car accidents, most of which occurred at weekends.
Police said on Monday that 294 people had died on Czech roads during the first half of the year. That is the lowest figure for the first six months of the year for the last 21 years. During the same period in 2009 the number of victims was 86 higher. The latest figures follow on from a sharp rise in road deaths accompanying the start of the summer holidays. Overall, the death toll has been falling for several years now with last year’s total for the first half year under 400 for the first time. In the first six months of 1990 640 people died on the roads.
Speeding in built-up areas is the most common traffic violation by Czech drivers, accounting for 25 percent of all traffic violations, according to a report by the Czech Interior Ministry released on Sunday. It is followed by disrespecting traffic signs and failure to fasten seat belts or wear helmets. Other frequent violations include driving without headlights on and making phone calls while driving. Since July 2006, where a points system was introduced in the Czech Republic, some 26,000 drivers lost their licences because of traffic violations. Most drivers who scored 12 or more points are 21-years-old and younger.
The Czech Road and Motorway Authority is planning to lower the speed limits on parts of Czech highways because of the current heat wave, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Saturday. The heat damaged two parts of the motorway network earlier this week where the road surfaced bulged out. The officials are now putting together a list of other potentially dangerous spots, and will ask on Monday the Transport Ministry to lower the speed limit of 130 km/h in these passages. However, if the weather cools down, no such measure will be necessary, the road authority said.
Hundreds of people blocked an international road between the Czech Republic and Slovakia near the small town of Hradec in north-east Moravia on Thursday morning, in protest against heavy traffic. Long columns of cars and trucks formed on the road as a result. They ended the blockade before noon. Local inhabitants protested by walking slowly across the road on a pedestrian crossing; some of the drivers were aggressive and tried to get through the crowd. One of the protesters said the situation was unsustainable and that heavy truck traffic between the two countries made it impossible for them to sleep at night.
A special commission investigating the causes of the 2008 Studénka rail crash has delivered its long-awaited report, with police investigators speaking of a ‘catalogue of negligence and failure’. Eight people died and 91 were injured when an international express train from Poland slammed into a motorway bridge that had collapsed onto the tracks just seconds earlier.
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