By Bejay Browne
LOCAL authorities and residents are continuing to pile pressure on the government to act quickly to stop homes from collapsing in Limnes in Pissouri, following a meeting at the end of last month.
Homeowners are facing a raft of problems due to land slippage and the local authority is warning that if immediate action is not taken, homes may not survive another winter. Damage includes cracks in interior and exterior walls, swimming pools, roads, pavements, footpaths, retaining walls, drains, water pipes and other infrastructure works.
Following the meeting, Lazros Lazarou, the community leader of Pissouri said that work to repair and extend the village’s drainage system would soon get underway; however, this will probably not fix the land slippage problem.
“We have a promise from a representative from the Limassol district office that if we continue with the drainage project, he will request financial support for these efforts from the interior ministry.”
Lazarou said that work would include replacing drainage pipes where they are not working or have been broken.
“We have asked our civil engineer to do a study to extend the drainage system to take away the water. That’s all that we can do. The cost for this project is too much for the village to pay for on its own, but this is the opinion of the experts and so we are prepared to do whatever they recommend. But there is a possibility that we could be spending money for nothing. If the earth is moving, the new pipes will be damaged again.“
The community leader said that representatives from many different departments participated in the meeting, including the geological department, the Limassol district authorities, town planning and the water authorities. A representative from the interior ministry visited two days later.
Lazarou said that the relevant departments were continuing their studies of the area but had not completed their report.
“They have asked for us to wait to give them time to finish the report for the minister. We have stressed that we have no time and we urgently need a solution before next winter,” he said.
Lazarou said that representatives visited some of the houses in the area and were aware of the severity of the problems. The community leader said that the council will undertake whatever the experts advise, although the costs may be huge and therefore the burden must be on the government.
Repairs to the damage and an extension of the drainage system, however, will get underway imminently.
Lazarou said that the council was waiting for the final government report but believes the cost of stabilising the area could run into millions.
“Obviously, this is out of reach for Pissouri council .There are around 50 houses affected and a few are very badly damaged. We know that ideally these people want to stay in their homes and that they are worrying very much.”
Antony Walker, a retired chartered quantity surveyor and expert witness, said that the damage is due to land slippage, resulting from a decade-long failure of successive authorities to provide adequate infrastructure to manage ground water, and allowing development to go ahead in the area.
He and his wife moved to Cyprus 14 years ago but have owned their five bedroom house for the last 25 years.
Walker, along with a number of other residents, is now requesting a direct meeting with Minister of interior, Socratis Hasikos to fully explain the weight of the problem and find out what financial responsibility the state will bear.
“We have written the minister a letter asking to meet him personally. People could lose their homes and these are not holiday homes, these are full time residents. One of my Cypriot neighbours bought his house only one year ago, with a twenty five year mortgage. He could be left with nowhere to live and a debt,” Walker said.
He added that homes are falling to pieces and the road has already dropped in some places by around one and a half metres. The damage is caused by land slippage, not poor standards of building construction, he said.
“As I understand, a similar problem on the other side of the village a few years ago, took three or four years between the studies and work being carried out. We don’t have that sort of time.”
Walker said that stabilisation works of that area cost around 6 million euros.
John Lamb, 85, and wife Linda moved to Cyprus from the UK 27 years ago and live close to Walker. Damage to his house is shocking and mostly occurred during a period of just six weeks. He has decided to undertake cosmetic work to make his home more habitable.
“We have house guests arriving and we have assumed that there won’t be any more serious slippage during the summer so we are carrying out some necessary works and tidying up,” he said.