By Angelos Anastasiou
If the Strovolos municipality objects to the planned facelift and enlargement of Tseri Avenue, the allocated budget can be diverted to other projects, President Nicos Anastasiades warned Strovolos Mayor Lazaros Savvides on Thursday.
Government plans to add a third traffic lane to Tseriou, building a traffic island and barriers along the avenue, have long been protested by residents and shopkeepers who claim that commercial life and the avenue’s character will be affected.
Amidst public pressure, the Strovolos municipal council on Tuesday voted against the plan, and the “Tseriou Avenue Residents and Shopkeepers’ Initiative” group hailed the vote, calling for new plans that will consider their objections.
The dissenting group also held a protest on Thursday morning outside the Presidential Palace.
Inside, Anastasiades met with Nicosia social groups and announced the allocation of over €170 million in spending on development projects in the capital, including work on Tseri Avenue, and issued a stern warning to dissenters.
“Taking into account the long-standing demands of municipal authorities, as well as police reports citing road safety, we proceed to re-establish and upgrade Tseriou, for a budgeted €8 million” the President said.
“I understand and hear that citizens object and propose alternative ways of planning road networks. Either there will be a town planning department and a functional plan, or citizens will be called on to design road networks.”
Following this crude manifestation of his irritation, Anastasiades went on to issue a direct threat against the Strovolos mayor, who had been in attendance.
“Our decision is to carry out the project,” Anastasiades said.
“But if the Strovolos municipality objects, I am forced to clarify that the allocated amount will be used for other mature projects, pending the maturity of the new plan in the opinion of the citizens. I will ask [the state’s] Technical Services to consult with you on whether some accommodations for public safety can be made, so the project can start immediately.”
“It is up to you, Mr Mayor,” Anastasiades said, addressing Savvides.
Despite having voted in favour of the plan at this week’s municipal council session, the Strovolos mayor nonetheless took the flak from Anastasiades as a representative of the council.
Later on Thursday, DIKO backed the municipality’s refusal to endorse the government’s plans.
“DIKO’s municipal councillors listened to the citizens’ frustration, as was their duty, but focused on the essence of the proposals, both from the government and the Initiative group,” DIKO said in a statement.
“We are in favour of a milder stance, and the redesigning of the project. We would much rather it take longer to be concluded properly, than it being hastily done, causing other, serious, and irreversible problems.”