Cyprus Mail

Road works crippling local business

By Bejay Browne

ONGOING road works at a busy tourist hub in Paphos are crippling businesses and creating an ugly atmosphere for visitors at the height of the summer season according to local shop and restaurant owners.

The Tomb of the Kings road in Kato Paphos runs through a busy tourist area and is undergoing work which will see it turned into a dual carriageway which will eventually form part of a ring road around the town.

The ambitious two year project includes a central reservation, walk ways, cycle paths and roundabouts but it isn’t due to be completed until 2015.

Mayor of Paphos, Savvas Vergas, told the Sunday Mail that although he has received a number of complaints and sympathises with people’s concerns, he is asking them to be patient and understanding.

“When the project is finished it will create a completely different and positive picture for the area. I realise that people are suffering now, but they need to be patient,” he said.

But some local business are unsure if they will still be open next year as they say the work is killing business and many have already been forced to close down.

Stella and Budge Virdi have owned and operated the once thriving Zaffron restaurant on the Tomb of the Kings road for the last decade. They said that ongoing work outside their premises, which began at the start of the summer season, is destroying their trade.

“We are suffering badly and it’s a nightmare. We used to have space for 40 guests to sit outside at the front of the restaurant and this is what visitors like to do. This is now impossible as work is going on directly outside our frontage,” Budge Virdi said.

He said that work was so disorganised and messy, that three or four of their guests had already fallen over rubble whilst trying to enter the restaurant.

The couple were sent a letter to inform them when work would start outside their venue, but no time frame was given for when it would be completed. That was two months ago.

“They dug a channel one and a half metres deep directly outside and said it would only be for a couple of days – it took one month to fill in,” Virdi said.

The couple say business is down by at least 45 per cent compared with last year. Business is so quiet, Virdi said, that for the first time in 25 years he is taking time off in August.

“We are only just managing to cover our costs. We are doing special deals to try and encourage people to come in. We will only survive if they hurry up and finish quickly.”

The restaurateur says that he frequently speaks to the onsite engineer to complain about the mess and disorganisation, and is told ‘they are doing their best.’

“They should concentrate on one area and finish it before moving on,” he said.

Holiday maker and London resident Nick Papasavva agreed that the area was a disgrace and that he and his partner were unaware of any works in the area at the time of booking.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived. There is so much dust and rubbish everywhere, an unpleasant smell and not much work seems to be being done,” he complained.

“It seems as if one bit has been dug up and left and then they have moved onto another area. This isn’t the atmosphere you want on your holiday.”

But local resident Lee Miller said that while he understood the plight of local businesses, in the long run the project would greatly benefit the area.

“No-one likes road works and they do cause disruption. But whilst I feel sorry for the shops, when it’s finished, I think it will be a greatly improve the area.”

Miller said the government should do more to prop up businesses during the next few months.

“They should give them some sort of support if they want there to be any life along the road when it opens,” he said.

Vergas has just visited the area for an inspection of the progress of the 11 million euro project and to discuss any problems which have been encountered by the contractors. He said that he was trying to ensure a minimum disruption is caused to businesses.

“We are very unlucky that we are in an economic crisis and the government isn’t giving us all of the money in one year. This is why we have a two year, two phase project and we have to wait until 2015 until the work will be completed,” he explained.

He added that his hands were tied as Paphos had to follow the time frame which was set by the government.

Much of the main road is now subject to ongoing road works. The public works department said that when complete, 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.

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.

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