A few days of rain and Limassol has been transformed, but not in a good way.
Branded by many residents as now looking decidedly third world, Limassol’s current state is a far cry from the city that only a month ago, bagged awards for its innovation and development.
By Tuesday the downpour really began and although the effects were seen across the island – most notably Larnaca – Limassolians were quick to condemn the municipality for its apparent failure to take basic measures to ensure streets didn’t flood.
“The municipality isn’t even capable of taking measures for the five days of rain we get per year. Can you imagine what would happen if it rains more? No one will be able to move. That’s why we have tall buildings, because we’d drown with short ones!” Nikos Kalika commented on a Facebook video showing, as a nearby resident put it a “beach” accumulating on Franklin Roosevelt street.
Just over a month ago, One Residence, received a Five Star Award at the European Property Awards 2016-2017 in London for the tallest residential seafront tower in Europe.
Additionally, the Crystal Lounge Bar & Restaurant at Limassol marina bagged the Highly Commended Award in the leisure interior design category for its dining area that literally floats on water.
But these prestigious awards are little solace for those trying to navigate streets near the city centre such as Anexartisias and St Andrew’s streets in wet weather.
“Seeing as we pay our taxes every year they (authorities) should be giving us a boat so we can actually use the roads and get on with our business,” Haris Nicolaou wrote on Facebook.
Marianna Theodotou was flabbergasted on Tuesday when she looked out of the window and saw what she described as a “river” on the street she had to cross to get to her car.
“Am I supposed to get a stick and paddle there? There’s literally no way for me to get there without getting drenched.”
Limassol mayor Andreas Christou, responding to the criticism told the Sunday Mail “these things don’t just happen in Limassol. They’re across the country.”
Rainfall from the northern parts of Limassol, specifically Palodia pours down and ends up in the city centre, he said.
“It’s thousands of tonnes of rainwater.”
According to the mayor, 10 years ago, the municipality had designed a project worth €50 million to deal exclusively with resolving the problem.
It entailed changing the infrastructure underneath the roads at Ayia Fyla – a little further down from Palodia – to direct the rainwater to the Garyllis river.
“By 2011 we were ready to go to tender. Then the crisis hit and there was no money.” The costs of the projects were to be split in half between the state and the local authority.
“Now we’re left with our hands crossed but the matter is now before the cabinet and we’re waiting for them to approve it any day.”
Christou categorically denied that the drains were a problem because they were not being cleared.
“The current infrastructure is being well maintained but it’s not enough. It’s like going into a battlefield with a bow and arrow against an enemy with tanks,” he said.
But the district general secretary for Limassol small shopkeepers’ union POVEK, Kyriakos Moustakas, was not convinced.
Although he stressed he had not heard of complaints from shopkeepers saying the weather had adversely affected their business, he said the municipality was not doing enough to clear the drains.
“We always wait until the last minute to get them cleared. Why can’t we be proactive and prevent the problem before it happens?” he asked.
“Thank God we have more than enough municipal employees. The mayor should get his staff out to work before the problems start and not wait until the last minute…They obviously don’t do their job properly.”
However, the fault doesn’t only lie with the local authority but “people who throw rubbish and don’t care if it blocks the drains. But still, the mayor should send the cleaners out to do their job properly,” Moustakas added.
As the vicious circle goes around, one resident Marios Ioannou had a pithy explanation: “the municipality sleeps and the fire service runs to solve the problem.”
Another Limassol resident, who did not want to share his name, simply shrugged and said “it’s the same thing every year. But elections are coming up.”