By Constantinos Psillides
NICOSIA municipality on Tuesday opened tenders for the completion of the transformation of Eleftheria Square, splitting the project into two in an attempt to have it finished by December 2015.
The project is now split into the actual Square revamp and its surrounding areas and the underground parking lot on Omirou Street. In a statement the municipality asked for tenders to be submitted by the morning of April 30 for the underground parking and May 15 for Eleftheria Square.
The municipality is in a race against time as it has to complete both projects by December 15, 2015 or lose €25.5 million in funding. The €30 million project is 85 per cent funded by the EU, which has already gave a two year extension to the municipality. An additional extension is highly unlikely, especially for a project that is nowhere near being finished.
The municipality hopes to recommence work on the project on June.
Work on the underground parking has yet to commence while that in Eleftheria Square is approximately 30 per cent complete.
The whole project was initially supposed to be completed by March 2013.
The contractor who won the tender in 2011, Miltiades Neofytou Civil Engineering Contractors & Developers Ltd, finally gave up on the works last year after repeated delays drove building costs up and led to a legal dispute with the municipality.
One important delay concerned the bridge connecting Evagoras and Ledra streets and the underground parking which should have been ready by February 2013. The contractor asked for a one year extension but failed to deliver. The bridge is an essential part of the project, as it will provide access from the walled city to Makarios Avenue, giving a much-needed boost to what was once Nicosia’s busiest shopping area.
The contractor blamed the municipality and the architect for the delays and demanded a 552 day extension on the completion date and €3 million in compensation.
Faced with the probability of not finishing the project on time and losing the EU funds, the municipality settled with the contractor last month, paying the company €530,000.
Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis has repeatedly said that completing Eleftheria Square is a number one priority as it will boost the local economy.