Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Police to cap Ledra Palace car jams

By Stefanos Evripidou

THE AUTHORITIES hope to tackle the problem of long processions of cars entering and leaving the buffer zone at the Ledra Palace checkpoint, especially during weddings, by limiting the number of cars allowed to enter the area.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the police and the foreign ministry decided around two weeks ago to limit the number of cars allowed to pass the checkpoint as this was causing serious policing and security problems.

The area, once a sad portrait of a frozen conflict riddled with bullet holes, has recently come to life with the opening of a restaurant-bar-conference venue (Chateau Status) and a civil society venture, the Home for Cooperation (H4C).

The H4C has become particularly popular for its inter-communal and cultural events, most recently playing host to a talk given by former president George Vassiliou and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which attracted hundreds of people from both sides of the divide.

Apart from the two new establishments, people also visit the Goethe Institute and the Fulbright Centre, also within the buffer zone.

Angelides said the decision was taken only to allow those working in the buffer zone or those on specific business, for example, suppliers or school buses, to pass the checkpoint.

“Before that, all cars could pass and park, creating security, safety and policing problems with cars coming and going in an uncontrolled manner,” he said, adding that “we decided to improve on the current system.”

The police spokesman noted that if anyone had good reason to park within the area, they could go to the police officer at the Ledra Palace checkpoint to secure a special pass.

One person who attends Greek language lessons at the H4C told the Cyprus Mail that the new measures would dissuade people from entering the buffer zone and engaging in inter-communal events, since they will now have to pay for parking elsewhere.

A foreign ministry source responsible for coordination with police on the matter noted that free parking exists further down the street at the law courts.

Displaying a somewhat different approach than the police, the ministry source said the aim was not to put a blanket ban on cars entering the area, but to limit them to 26, as this is the number of parking permits given to Chateau Status.

He acknowledged that other organisations present in the buffer zone do not have parking permits but expressed the hope that an agreement could be reached with the UN for more to be issued.

The aim is to avoid the chaos that occurs when a large event, like a wedding, takes place in the area, attracting hundreds of cars, he said.

The police’s job is to check those cars leaving the buffer zone, something that would cause huge delays for people.

“We are trying to tidy up the situation a bit. Let those who work in the area to go in and do their job, suppliers, etc., and other cars, as long they are not more than 26,” he said.

“We don’t want to create problems, we just want to tidy up the confusion,” he concluded.

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