Asylum seekers barred from Norway bus

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Richard Orange - [email protected]
Asylum seekers barred from Norway bus
The Valdres Express bus after a driver was killed in 2003 - Scanpix

The Norwegian bus company hit by this week's fatal hijacking has come under fire after it emerged that it cancelled plans to take a group of asylum seekers to Oslo in the wake of the killing.


A group of seven asylum seekers, due to travel to Oslo for asylum interviews on Tuesday, were prevented from travelling on the Valdres Express after a deal was struck between Nettbus Sogn, the bus's operator, and Hero Norge, which runs the asylum centre. 
"Some of the bus drivers were anxious, some of the asylum seekers were anxious, so it was a natural decision in that hour of crisis to postpone the asylum interviews for seven people," said Tor Brekke, the acting chief executive of Hero Norge. "The bus company had a concern that some drivers didn't want to be exposed to the asylum seekers in the first hours of the crisis." 
Nettbus Sogn operates the Valdres Express, the bus which was hijacked on Monday night by a South Sudanese asylum seeker, who killed the driver and two passengers. 
"It's a shock and we are very sorry about what happened," Per Steinar Sviggum, the company's chief executive told The Local. "It's a difficult situation and that [postponing the transport] is a normal reaction after what happened. It's just organisation of transport to Oslo. It's just a few people." 
He said that his buses had never stopped taking asylum seekers. 
"All of our buses are open and there's no problem. We are taking asylum seekers every day, both locally and on the bus from Oslo to Årdal." 
He said he had offered his drivers counselling, although none of them had so far taken up the offer. 
"Of course, they have had a reaction after what's happened. But we have drivers with long experience, and they are professional and they will handle it," he added. 


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