By Bejay Browne
PAPHOS municipality is pushing for the creation of a number of wave breakers in a deadly stretch of sea of the Paphos coastline which has claimed fifteen lives in the last decade. Their aim is to make the water safer and avoid any more deaths, as summer approaches.
Head of the Paphos municipality beaches committee Nikos Simillides told the Cyprus Mail that the safety of the area is a priority for the municipality but as the cost of a project to create four wave breakers in the sea will cost close to two million euros, “the town cannot afford that kind of money.”
“The economics in Paphos are not easy at the moment. My priority is to save people but at the same time, anything to do with the safety of the beaches is the government’s responsibility. We are pushing them to make this project,” he said.
The deadly stretch runs for about three kilometres from Chlorokas to Kissonerga in Paphos in a popular tourist area where numerous hotels, hotels complexes and holiday units are found.
It is known for its rip currents and high waves. The most dangerous area to swim is the Venus Beach which is not an official public beach and therefore has no lifeguard stationed there.
The deadly stretch claimed its 15th victim last year and there have also been hundreds of reported near-drownings. Most of the victims were guests staying at hotels and tourist apartments in the area.
Simillides said that although the sea can be very dangerous for swimmers, it is not permitted legally, to tell people not to enter the sea.
“We cannot legally tell people not to visit the beach as it’s against the law, but I urge people to pay attention to the signs and the flags. The sea can be very dangerous here.”
He said that Paphos municipality has already put seven large warning signs in four different languages in place, as well as red flags, buoys and ropes in the sea to aid those who get into difficulty. He said that no other preventative measures could legally be put in place, which underlines the need for the wave breakers.
Suggestions were made in 2010 that the beach should be closed off but legal obstacles prevented this. The Paphos District Office said access to the beach could not be restricted. Simillides said that Paphos municipality’s only option is to pressure the government to proceed with the breakwater project.
“We have spoken with minister of communications and works, Marios Demitriades, and he has promised to meet and discuss the matter with the hotels in the area. He suggested that the cost could be split between the government, hotels and the municipality. But the cost for the municipality is nearly half a million euros, which is too much.”
A council meeting on Monday night was expected to press the government to cover the municipality’s costs.