Streets in the capital were jam packed with cars Wednesday afternoon as main roads were closed between 3.30pm and 7:00pm for a trial run for a special stage of the Cyprus Rally which starts on Friday.
“Oh my god!” said a frustrated Lara Jones, speaking to the Cyprus Mail. “How do they manage this every year? It’s ridiculous. I’ve tried escaping down different streets but it’s all chock-a-block jammed up. They diverted all the traffic without any signs, not one sign.”
Equally frustrated was Penny Savva. “This is unbelievable, yet again. People should have been better informed. I have been sitting in my car for an hour and twenty-five minutes, it’s unacceptable,” she fumed. “The police let me and another three cars through by accident and we ended up being turned back to where we are now in this mess.”
Yiannis Petrou seemed more resigned as he vaped his electronic cigarette while stuck in diverted traffic on Spyros Kyprianou avenue. “What to do? It’s once a year. I heard about it on the radio this morning. The police woman said it was going to be bad. I knew which roads to avoid, but I am still here,” he smiled. “The kids said it was on Facebook too.”
Politicians also weighed in to make their complaints. Among the roads closed was the one passing in front of the parliament, which according to Green MP George Perdikis only happens in backward countries.
“Phenomena such as the closure of the road in front and around the parliament with the purpose of conducting a rally can only happen in banana republics. Because they want to have a rally, we should close the House?” said Perdikis, saying he did not know of “any other country in the world where the House is closed because a car club wants a rally and certain people want to play political games.” MPs should consider it an insult to the House he said.
Anna Chrysostomou, who wanted to avoid the chaos, had thought she had been clever by parking her car in the morning in the huge empty lot where the old general hospital used to be, opposite the parliament. By doing so last year, she had avoided getting caught up in the gridlock.
This year, however, things did not go as planned.
“I had been closed in. A simple notice informing us not to park in the area would have saved me a half hour walk to an Engomi taxi office, after a tiring day at work, and a ten-euro cab fare to Lakatamia.”
Among those stuck in traffic was Savvas Pavlides, a diehard rally fan. “I’ve been here 45 minutes but don’t care if I’m stuck for longer. I’ll be going to the shakedown at Stavrovouni in the morning and have taken the rest of the week off to watch as many special stages as possible.”
Seventy-two crews from nine countries are on the entry list for the rally this year which takes place from October 7-9, hosting two regional FIA championship rounds, one being the tenth and final round of the European Rally Championship and the other the fifth round of the Middle East Rally Championship, as well as the fourth round of the Cypriot Championship. The rally ends on Sunday.