Paphos shopkeepers took to the streets on Wednesday morning in protest after the municipality cut off their electricity.
Blocking traffic for 10 minutes, the move affected 11 shopkeepers who have stalls at the municipal market but have not paid their outstanding electricity bills.
Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos said that although it was sad it had to come to this, there were scandalous examples of people who had not paid their rent and electricity bills since 2008.
Shopkeepers received a letter in advance warning them that if they had outstanding payments from 2014, the electricity would be cut off. The decision to inform them was made on March 9 by the city council.
Market committee chairman Neofitos Sergis said that for 23 years, shopkeepers had not paid for their electricity separately because it was included in the rent they paid to the municipality. He stressed that the supply was vital for their business, but did admit, however, that they had received warning letters.
“After a four month warning we gave another warning over a year ago. We could not give another extension and allow some people to continue not paying their electricity, having it paid on their behalf by the Paphos Municipality,” Phedonos said.
He added that the present situation was unfair as some businesses are up to date with their payments while others pay neither their electricity nor their rent.
“We did not impose tight deadlines…and we are very flexible and conciliatory on the matter of repaying rent.”
He specified that once bills were settled, electricity would be restored. The shopkeepers have arranged a meeting with the mayor to discuss the matter.