By Bejay Browne
WHEN PLANS were announced to turn the road running though the heart of the busy tourist area of Paphos’ Tomb of the Kings into a dual carriageway, locals were concerned their businesses would be destroyed.
The dual carriageway, which will eventually form part of a ring road around the town, is an ambitious project which includes a central reservation, walk ways, cycle paths and a series of roundabouts. But just over six months into the two year, 11 million euro project and the owners of businesses along the road say their worst fears are being confirmed.
Large swathes of the main road are now closed off for the ongoing road works, most separated from view by green barriers, while one section of the road now also has a lingering bad smell.
Michalis Michael owns two businesses – a travel agency and car hire office – along the Tomb of the Kings road. The space in front of his businesses is currently being turned into a parking area.
“We are right next to this public parking area. We were told it would be like this for three weeks, but I think it will be longer,” Michael said. “The area does need tidying up, but this project is a waste of money. It’s happening now though, so there is nothing else I can do about it.”
Michael and many others from the area were strongly opposed to the project and took part in numerous demonstrations. He says since the work in front of his shops began, trade has dropped off completely.
“The area is being completely destroyed, four lanes are just too big for here,” he said.
But project supervisor Panicos Panayiotou of the Paphos Public Works Department (PWD) disagrees, saying businesses will not be affected in the long run and that disruption in the area is being kept to a minimum.
“The area in question is off the main road and is being made into a public parking area. It’s due to be finished at the end of November and so far we are on target,” he said. “Businesses know that the work has to be done, unfortunately some people are complaining, but that’s how it is. You can’t construct a road without any disruption what so ever.”
Panayiotou said the bad smell along one section of the road is a temporary problem caused by a cracked metal manhole frame. As the facility is operational it has been covered with plastic, but a stench is apparent especially when it’s windy and will remain until work in the area is completed.
Panayiotou said he had worked on similar road construction projects in Limassol where owners of businesses were concerned about their livelihoods.
“We constructed the coastal road there. The shops haven’t closed and people have got used to it,” he said.
The PWD are now on stage two of the eight stage project which will stretch for about 3 to 3.5 km along the Tomb of the Kings road. Two new roundabouts will also be constructed, the first close to the entrance of the Tomb of the Kings, a protected UNESCO site. The second will be close to the new Kings Mall, due to open at the end of November. This roundabout will be one of the last tasks to be completed and will take about five months to construct.
Panayiotou explained that certain restrictions apply to the entire project. The road mustn’t be closed at any time during the construction of the new four lane road, and movement of traffic must be observed at all times.
“This is a tourist area so pedestrians must have at least one walkway open to them to be able to move about freely and safely,” he said.
Four temporary road crossings have been constructed, as well as a number of bus stops.
“We also have to keep the existing services up and running. The electricity and water supply and telecommunications must all be active throughout the project. It’s a lot of work.”
In addition, work in some areas has been prohibited during the summer months next year, between June 15 and September 15.
The supervising engineer says that a typical section of the road will include two lanes each way. Each carriageway will be about seven metres wide, with the central reservation between two and 3.60m wide. The pedestrian walkways will be about 2.5 metres in width, the green area about one metre and the cycle track about 2.7 metres.
The contractor has an incentive to complete the project as soon as possible, Panayiotou said. Late completion entails a penalty of around six thousand euros for every day the project runs over. If completed before the deadline, the contractor receives a four thousand euro a day bonus.
He said that once completed, the dual carriageway will be of a great benefit.
“The road will improve safety,” he said. “There will be proper walkways, street lighting, a cycle track and the four lanes so it will take more traffic.”