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Monday's papers: Tractor taxi, hanging bridge fail and kindergarten on wheels

Today's papers feature stories on a tractor taxi, hanging bridge failure and daycare bus.

Repoveden kansallispuiston romahtanut riippusilta.
The failed hanging bridge in Repovesi Image: Kari Niemi

The liberalisation of Finland’s taxi trade, which took effect on Sunday, immediately resulted in some peculiar-looking cabs on the country's roads.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that a reader in Lahti had spotted an old tractor fitted with the yellow TAKSI-sign. The driver was alone, Ilta-Sanomat said, and it was unclear where a potential customer would even sit.

The tractor was fitted with a small tailboard, but according to the reader, it would be difficult to use it for transporting customers – and it would not make for a comfortable ride.

Lahden Aluetaksi, the firm which until Sunday was exclusively in charge of taxi services in the area, said the tractor does not belong to their fleet.

“It’s not ours. We only have quality cars,” a representative from Aluetaksi told the paper.

The police were unable to say whether the tractor would meet the criteria for transporting customers. According to the new rules, any road-worthy vehicle with at least three wheels may now be used as a taxi.

“These are quite new matters for us. It’s better you contact us again on Monday,” the officer on call duty told Ilta-Sanomat.

Hanging bridge scare

Meanwhile, hikers at a national park in Repovesi got a scare on Sunday after a cable on a hanging bridge failed, reports daily Turun Sanomat.

According to the police, there were nine people on the bridge in southeastern Finland during the incident. No one was hurt and all nine were able to make it back to safety without help from authorities, the paper said.

"Initially I thought a movie was being filmed on the bridge, which tilted 45 degrees," said Jere Vesalainen, who was driving a boat underneath the bridge.

“But then I heard people screaming and understood this was the real deal,” he added.

Auvo Sapattinen from Metsähallitus, a government agency responsible for state-owned lands, said the 50-metre bridge was overloaded.

“There are instructions at each end of the bridge saying one person can stand on it every 10 metres.”

“There should not have been nine people there at the same time,” he added.

Sapattinen said Metsähallitus would start an investigation into the incident involving the failed bridge, which hangs at a height of 10 metres above Lapinsalmi lake. The bridge was built in 1987 and had been inspected last year.

Daycare on wheels

In other news, some children in Helsinki might be able to visit a daycare centre on wheels in a few years’ time, reports daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Deputy mayor Pia Pakarinen said the daycare bus would function as a base and take children to exercise or play in the woods, for example.

“The kids would not be sitting on the bus all day,” she said. "The bus would enable us to organise pre-schools in the forest,” Pakarinen added.

The paper reports that Helsinki suffers from a shortage of daycare capacity, especially in the fall. One solution is to build large kindergartens for more than 300 children. But it is difficult to find available land for such large buildings in some districts of Helsinki, HS reports.

According to Pakarinen, city officials had made an excursion to the town of Kouvola in southeastern Finland where a kindergarten bus is in use.

As experiences in Kouvola have been positive, the city of Helsinki will now consider the option too, HS said.

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