By Bejay Browne
THE sewerage saga continues in Paphos with Tala village demanding to be excluded from the planned project and Peyia residents up in arms over recent tax bills.
The Paphos sewerage board SAPA has sent out bills to home owners for work to connect the areas to mainline facilities in line with EU regulations due to commence in 2016.
Following a meeting held in Tala at the weekend, the local community board has written to the government to be excluded from the project.
Community leader Areti Pieridou told the Cyprus Mail: “We are against the sewerage plan for Tala, it wouldn’t be feasible here. Firstly, there are numerous steep and narrow roads, many houses are on ravines and so on, especially in the Kamares area; it would be very difficult to build.”
Pieridou said that “many people are also facing unemployment and times are financially hard, the government doesn’t have the 80% it needs for the project to proceed, and so we are against the idea. Unfortunately, we are included in the plan until such time as the government reconsiders.”
Meanwhile, Peyia councilor Linda Leblanc is urging SAPA to hold a public meeting to inform disgruntled property owners regarding recent demands for sewerage tax.
Households in Peyia have recently been sent bills for tax on a service which is yet to be implemented and many are concerned about why they are being asked to pay upfront for something which doesn’t yet exist.
But Leblanc, who is pushing for a public meeting before the bills are due to be paid by the end of March, says this practice is usual in Cyprus and in other European countries, including some areas of the UK.
“SAPA needs to collect 20% of the total cost of the project for Peyia and Tala to qualify for a loan from the European development bank,” she said.
The councilor noted that the entire project to incorporate the wider areas of Peyia and Tala would cost about 40m euros.
“As I understand it, the work will be carried out in stages. The first would include the centre of Peyia village and the coastal commercial area. This will probably cost around 20m euros.”
Leblanc noted that the sewerage board plans to start work on phase one in 2016 which is due to be completed by 2018.
“The SAPA tax bills have naturally provoked a strong response. The confusion has been caused mainly due to the failure of our representative on the SAPA board – the mayor of Peyia – to provide satisfactory information for residents,” the councilor said.
This week, Leblanc and other Peyia council members met with the Paphos District Officer and SAPA officials to discuss the project.
Leblanc said that a lack of information was the most serious problem so far, with most of the Peyia councilors never having seen copies of any of the studies carried out, although they have been available for a number of years.
“I have copies of the studies and there is a coalition working group which has been examining these and collating other information on the subject, we are pressing for transparency. We would be interested to hear from any other local groups which are interested in sharing information to work towards a common goal of informing the residents about what’s going on,” Leblanc added.
The councilor concluded: “As I understand it, the last bills were delayed by months and now a sewerage bill for 2014 is due to be sent out soon.”