LARGE-SCALE road works have kicked-off in the resort of Pernera – on the very day many leading hotels opened for summer.
Diggers turned up to begin a major project of street widening, which will run throughout the peak tourism season and could even drag on for the next two-years.
The picturesque resort, which sits directly next to Protaras, offers over 8,000 rooms and is especially popular with locals and tourists from Germany, Britain, Russia and Nordic countries.
“The image and reputation of Cyprus will be devastated and destroyed completely,” local businessman Andy Varoshiotis told the Cyprus Mail.
“These are the actions of an irresponsible mayor, who cares only about votes in the upcoming elections in December. This is done to show he has performed work – because he has not done any work so far. ”
As digging got underway Thursday lunchtime, visitors arriving at the main entrance into Pernera were greeted by JCB’s, and dumper trucks.
Varoshiotis warned that holidaymakers will face widespread disruption and misery – as well as dust and noise pollution from heavy machinery – during the key summer months of June, July and August.
To make matters worse, local hotels are 80 percent booked for the Easter holiday weekend and mangers say they were only informed about the planned roadworks three weeks ago.
Commerce Minister George Lakkotrypis and Communications Minister Marios Demetriou have been urged to look at the situation. Both ministers have received messages from Varoshiotis and others appealing for a temporary halt to be called on the road works until later in the year.
The situation has shocked and dismayed many people in the community, who have appealed to Paralimni mayor Theodoros Pyrillis to use common sense – but to no avail.
“This project must stop immediately. One way or another he is going to stop,” Varoshiotis added.
Pyrillis has pointed the finger of blame for delays in parliament, coupled with checks into tenders for the work – which, he said, took much longer than anticipated. The project was meant to begin in October 2015, when the resort resembles a ghost town.
“This works need doing,” he said, during a local radio interview.
“We understand the complaints from residents, we are doing our best not inconvenience them,” he added.
Hotelier Andreas Papouis, who has decades of experience running hotels in Paphos, Ayia Napa, Larnaca and Limassol, said ‘he had never experienced a situation like this’.
He said his greatest fear was noise pollution, which is frowned upon by European tour operators.
“I never saw such a thing. People are coming here to relax, not to listen to the noise over there,” he said.
“I have also contacted the Minister of Communications. But they didn’t call me back. I’ve asked them to come and see the situation, we really don’t know what to do, we need to stop this situation otherwise the tour operators will stop selling Protaras. My hotel is fully booked as of the 3rd May.”
Shop and restaurant owners say the road works will destroy trade during their busiest period and are also pleading for the project to be delayed until the autumn to safeguard the vital summer economy.
“It makes no sense to dig up roads during the tourist season. It is just pure idiocy – it irritates the holidaymakers that have paid for a break and it does not help our businesses either,” one shop owner said.
“Peoples summer holidays should not begin with this horrible sight.”
The mayor of Paralimni was not immediately available for comment.