One woman single-handedly stopped contractors from continuing contested works to widen Larnaca and Aglandjia avenues on Tuesday
Efi Xanthou, a Green Party member stopped a bulldozer in its tracks when she arrived at the scene after an urgent call for help from one of the residents in the area.
She managed to get into the driver’s seat of the vehicle and by negotiating got the contractor and the department of public works to refrain from continuing with the work, which was impinging on private property.
“If the construction today went ahead the property would have been destroyed, even if a court later decided it was illegal,” said Xanthou.
Xanthou said that although the court had ruled in May that work on the project should stop, in a case won by 16 property owners, the government on June 6 decided to bypass the ruling by re-requisitioning the properties.
“We managed to stop the works from continuing for now. The department of public works and the contractor have agreed to stop until August 23 when hopefully another hearing has taken place and a decision taken,” said Xanthou.
“This decision is only for those originally went to court. We are contesting this. How can a process be illegal only for people who have the stamina and the money to go to court? In Cyprus the government is trying to play tricks on the residents, whereas the residents do everything according to the law,” Xanthou said. “We shouldn’t have to climb bulldozers.”
In May a Nicosia court annulled a government order for private land acquisitions for 16 owners of properties in Larnaca and Aglandjia. The 16 complainants were among a number of property owners who saw their land acquired by the government in November as part of the redevelopment. At the time the appeal was made by 31 individuals, but only the appeals of 16 were accepted as the rest did not adequately justify how the redevelopment would affect them. Others did not appeal at all.
The project aims to widen the three avenues from two to four lanes. Aside from private land acquisitions, crews felled century-old Cypress trees on Larnaca Avenue, to make way for the four-lane road. Residents have been struggling for several years to avert these plans but the project went ahead after funds were secured from the EU.