Hundreds of residents of Larnaca and Livadia municipalities staged a protest on Wednesday evening over the lack of progress in relocating of oil and gas storage units from their area.
Accompanied by MPs from various political parties, and the mayors of the two municipalities, residents marched to the gas and fuel storage facilities holding banners saying: “We are claiming our right to live without fear” and “We are claiming the future of our children and our town.” Part of the Larnaca to Dhekelia road closed to the traffic during the protest.
The two mayors said that they had had enough of promises and agreements since 2001 and demanded action.
Larnaca mayor Andreas Vyras had said last month his municipality rejected the third draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the relocation of the oil and gas firms from the district by 2020 because of a clause which allows a company to opt out of the deal if they wish to, by giving a month’s written notice. He had also said that they are no longer willing to engage in further discussions as long as there is no progress.
Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis on Wednesday submitted to the cabinet a signed MoU between the government and six private companies for the removal of their fuel storage facilities at Larnaca to Vassiliko in the Limassol district.
He said the plan would go ahead and a timetable had been fixed with a deadline of December 31, 2019 for moving the liquid fuels, and the creation of LPG facilities by December 31, 2020.
In response, Vyras said that since 2001, when the first agreement was announced, three more were signed, and there have been hundreds of meetings.
“Thousands of timeframes were set and decrees were issued, without anything ever changing,” he told protesters on Wednesday night.
He also said that if the same inactivity continues, “next time, our intervention and action will be even more dynamic, and we will force the issue ahead.”
Livadia mayor, Marios Armenis, said that the companies in question if they wanted to could, as a sign of good will, promptly relocate their liquid fuel, since there are facilities at Vassiliko.
“They have not done such a thing however, and, unfortunately, they confirm daily that the lack of trust in them is justifiable,” he said.
He said that the health and safety of residents were at risk, and that three of the four schools within his municipality are located within a high-risk zone.