By Peter Stevenson
WATER sports operators began a 48-hour strike on Wednesday by turning the hard shoulder of the Larnaca to Limassol highway into a parking lot on their way to blocking off the Limassol Marina.
Not wanting to cause a traffic jam, the operators from the Famagusta and Larnaca districts parked their boats along the hard shoulder in protest at the government’s plans to make all water sports operation available for bidding.
New legislation which is due to be voted on by deputies on Thursday at the House plenum would enable anybody to place a bid with their local municipality to run a water sports centre. This would essentially mean that operators who have been running their businesses on the coast for the last 30 years could be without a job if they are outbid.
Head of the Cyprus Water Sports Operators Association, Demetris Hadjidemetriou, labelled the law as catastrophic for businesses.
“Since 8am on Wednesday and for two days, all water sports on the coast will be shut in protest,” he said. Operators’ demands over the last 15 years to specialise their profession have fallen on deaf ears according to Hadjidemetriou who told the Cyprus Mail the ball was now in the government’s court.
The new legislation would require all operators who currently manage water sports, centres to apply to their local municipality for the right to continue, he added.
“Our demand is that the operators who already have positions, and who have been working to sustain business for more than three decades, be allowed to continue where they are until their retirement,” Hadjidemetriou said.
He said that if the law was passed, it would signal the beginning of the end for their profession.
Hadjidemetriou said he could not guarantee that demonstrations would continue to be carried out in a peaceful manner if parliament passed the law.
Association members have sought legal counsel in their efforts to avoid being uprooted.
At 11am on Wednesday the operators closed off the entrance to Limassol Marina with their vehicles before heading to Nicosia around 4pm to camp outside parliament where they are due to protest on Thursday. They warned that their actions would intensify according to the response of the state.