By Elias Hazou
Business interests and people in positions of power within the civil service are behind the continual delays in the Ayia Napa and Protaras marinas, the two mayors claimed on Tuesday.
The mayors saw a conspiracy of sorts aimed at hampering the projects, taking their case to the House commerce committee, which pledged to apply pressure on authorities.
“There hasn’t been the slightest progress, precisely because the civil service is serving the interests of two other competing projects, which happen to not be viable,” DISY deputy Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis later told reporters.
It’s understood he was referring to the Limassol and Larnaca marinas. The implication was that vested interests wanted to recoup their investments in those two projects before the Ayia Napa and Protaras marinas could move forward.
The MP spoke also of “incompetence” and “unacceptable conduct” of the involved government agencies, which keep posing new conditions and demanding more supporting documentation for the Ayia Napa and Protaras projects.
“We have asked the Auditor-general to investigate certain civil servants, as some of them have country homes in the affected areas and are not allowing these projects to proceed.”
DISY’s Zacharias Zachariou cautioned that the projects had fallen dangerously behind schedule, meaning this delayed the creation of new jobs.
Ayia Napa mayor Yiannis Karousos said a foreign investor is standing by to pour in €250m. The investor – believed to be Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris – has already submitted a €25m deposit to the government. The deposit was paid in January.
According to Karousos, the project there – which provides for 600 berths, holiday homes and apartments – would create 800 construction jobs and generate about €1bn in revenues for the government in the long term.
The Protaras marina meanwhile is billed at some €100m, creating hundreds of jobs, both during construction and later when it goes operational.
Paralimni mayor Theodoros Pirillis complained that the Attorney-general’s office is taking too long to issue a legal opinion on the tender documents.
The 16-page document was submitted four months ago, but the AG’s office has yet to get back to them.
Frustrated with the delay, the municipality in the meantime asked a private lawyer for an opinion, which the lawyer delivered in a day, Pirillis said.
The mayor issued an ultimatum: “If by the time the President of the Republic visits the Famagusta district on June 30, the President is not in a position to announce the project, we shall start naming these hidden interests.”
The Ayia Napa project has secured a town planning permit for the part of the project on land.
But this was only after successive delays and red tape from authorities, MP Hadjiyiannis later told the Mail.
Months ago, and when the town planning permit was just about to be issued, the Antiquities Department posed new conditions.
“They asked for a study to determine whether there were any antiquities on the sea floor in the area. A study was carried out, no antiquities were found. But why did they not ask for this beforehand?”
People in the Town Planning Department and the Land Registry also appeared to be trying to obstruct the project, he said.