JUST AS the tourism season gets underway, yet another new deadline has been set for completion of the beleaguered Tombs of the Kings Road in Paphos.
The ongoing works are finally due to be completed by the end of June, according to officials.
A spokesman for the Public Works Departments- PWD- Paphos, told the Sunday Mail the ‘new’ deadline is the end of next month. The previous deadline given was the end of April 2016.
“Hopefully this will be the last deadline. The matter of delays and time extensions are currently being assessed,” he said.
If the delays during the last period are found to be due to the contractor, they could be fined up to €6,000 a day, he added.
Upgrading work at one of the town’s busiest roads, has caused disruption and led to a barrage of complaints from jaded business people, residents and tourists.
The ongoing works have passed numerous deadlines, previously work should have been completed in April 2015, but contractors were granted an extension to January 2016. This was then extended until April 2016.
The PWD said that a number of issues are responsible for the delays which have led to the contractors, a joint venture between FAP Constructions Ltd and Stelios Kounna Bros. Ltd, being granted a number of extensions.
These included the absence of a main drainage pipe which showed on drawings prepared by the scandal hit Paphos sewerage board SAPA in 2009/2010, but which didn’t actually exist.
Local businessman, Michael Michael, owns and operates two business in the area, he protested against the creation of a four lane road, and said that works have decimated businesses and left some with no alternative but to shut up shop.
“Nobody asked the public if they wanted this road. This is the way things are done in Cyprus, we are living in a dictatorship. In the time when Savvas Vergas was mayor, he decided to build this road, along with the contractor and the director in the ministry of transport. They didn’t ask the residents or people here what they wanted.”
Michael said that initially, the road was supposed to take 17 months to complete, something which has yet to be achieved four years and five months later.
The businessman said that the upgrading of the road is unnecessary in the first place, and will only have a negative impact, overall, on the area.
“Turning a two-lane road into what is effectively a four-lane motorway has failed miserably in other areas of Cyprus and has led to a decline or closure.in business. A two lane road with ample car parks just off the roadside is shown to work. This is how it was before. This will now be a very busy road, with nowhere for people to stop and with nowhere for drivers to leave their cars,” he said.
Gift shop owner, Sean Rand, said that he was fed up with the delays and doesn’t believe fines will be levied at the construction companies, adding that unless more crews are dispatched and work speeded up, he will encourage businesses to undertake a peaceful protest and close the road to traffic.
“We lost around €40,000 worth of sales last year due to these roadworks as our business relies on foot flow. I’m exasperated.”
He added that health and safety practices at areas along the road are questionable at best, and said he has complained to the PWD.
“They need to either close the footpath or finish it as it poses a very real death hazard. There are vertical steel poles, two and three foot drops, deep holes and someone could get really hurt. It needs to be made safe and secure.”
Michel said that unexpectedly in 1987, a decision was taken to construct a four lane road in the area. At this time there weren’t many buildings there, he said. But from 1987 to 2016, numerus buildings, both residential and retail have been built, he added.
“A four lane road is now an outdated project. The projects should be adjusted to the current situation and forward planning should be used to take into consideration, how an area will be in the future, if they want to make something correctly,” he said.
He said that first constructing buildings and then putting a road in the middle of the buildings is unacceptable. He also said that the road had clearly sliced the area in two.
“By putting a four-lane road, even at low speed, you separate the area into a privileged area running from the road to the sea, and then from the road and up to the town. People that bought a property which is now in the area between the road and the beach have added value to their properties, and the people with properties on the other side of the road have less value.”
The project is in eight phases, and the dual carriageway will eventually form part of a ring road around the town. The project includes a central reservation, walkways, cycle paths and a series of roundabouts. The project will cost over €10m, and the money has already been allocated.
Andreas, a local taxi driver said: “The road works are taking too long to finish, it’s difficult for businesses and all of the people here. You can see that tourists on the other side of the road can’t go into the restaurants because of the roadworks, there are too many cars, it’s too busy and they’re scared to cross the road.”
A British holidaymaker staying at the nearby Kissos hotel with his wife said that the roadworks wouldn’t stop them from visiting Paphos again as they love it and are regulars, but noted: “It’s bad because the works don’t seem to get finished. This morning from about 7.45am, the power went off and we were told that they had gone through a cable.”
Michael concluded that when work is finally completed, which he doesn’t believe will be at the end of June 2016, the public will be so relieved that they will be ‘fooled’ into accepting a bad idea.
“Because of ongoing construction for many years, people will say, oh it’s a nice road. But I say, it’s a nice road compared to what?”