By Andria Kades
Residents and business owners from Nicosia’s Tseri Avenue organised another protest on Tuesday morning to stress their opposition to government plans to redesign the street.
A peaceful protest at 8am blocked the road at Konstantinopoleos Avenue for 10 minutes and attracted the interest of about 150 people including Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis.
Among them was Despina Petrou, a member of the Tseri Avenue Initiative. “What we are saying is that we want the plans designed by the Community Council and the government should respect that,” she said.
“Isn’t the purpose of the community council to represent the people? The government insists on the plans drafted in 1997,” she added.
The government proposal, which has an allocated €8 million budget that interior minister Socrates Hasikos has stated will go ahead, includes three traffic lanes, pavements two to three metres wide, 20 pedestrian crossings, seven light controlled junctions, two speed bumps, two roundabouts, up to 240 parking spots and assistance for people with disabilities.
Petrou stipulated that the community council plan, which specifies a two lane street, parking spots for cars and disabled parking is “humane” and “green” as opposed to the state plans which are “car focused” and outdated, arguing it will end up closing down some 150 businesses, leaving more than 1,000 people out of work.
President Nicos Anastasiades last month warned Strovolos municipality that if the council objected to the planned facelift and enlargement of Tseri Avenue, the allocated budget would be diverted to other projects.
The Strovolos mayor supports the government plan but the municipal council does not.
AKEL general secretary Andros Kyprianou threw his support behind the protesters after he had a meeting with members of the Tseri Avenue Initiative saying that their concerns should be given serious consideration and safety in the area should be the priority.
“These authoritarian methods (the government uses) such as ‘we’ll do it and we don’t care what you say’ I don’t think is the way problems can be dealt with in this day and age. The President has the responsibility to hear all the opinions from residents in the area and give instructions to the ministers.”
Kyprianou said more time was needed for further discussions while Petrou, responding to a question as to whether there was a risk the money would be lost if works did not go ahead, said a four to five month delay was not the end of the world.
“It can wait so the money of the state can be spent for good purpose and not just to say that we (the state) do projects.”