Holding banners with slogans such as ‘No more Mari’, ‘Health and safety above all’ and ‘We are not the wasteland of Cyprus’, residents of nine communities surrounding the Vassilikos area in Limassol protested on Wednesday morning against the government’s plan to develop the area into a giant energy hub without their consent.
The nine communities in the area are Pentakomos, Asgata, Mari, Zygi, Kalavasos, Tochni, Choirokoitia, Psematismenos and Maroni.
“There are plans for many developments in the region,” Lefteris Foka, head of the coordinating committee of the nine villages and community leader of Kalavasos said. “The communities only accepted the plans for liquid fuels and natural gas. After some promises that they would be stored underground, we agreed to it.”
But he said the villagers expected to get all this in writing but so far have received only verbal promises. “As long as we don’t have anything in writing we are against all developments, until the government fulfils what it has promised.”
One of the main promises was that a fire station would be built, he added, saying that it is inconceivable to have all this flammable material in the area and no fire station.
Foka explained the villagers, because of the economic crisis, had waited a long time to express their concerns but that the government did not seem to take this into account and was determined to go ahead with its plans without the consent of the communities.
“A memo will be prepared with the requests of the nine communities, which will be sent to the President of the Republic. We will request a meeting with the ministers involved, and if there is no response then there will be more vigorous measures.”
Earlier in the day, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said the oil firms will move from Larnaca to Vassilikos by December 31, 2019 and the gas installations by December 2020 as the area where they are now will be developed as a touristic area.
Meanwhile, Larnaca residents have planned their own demonstration regarding the relocation of the petroleum installations for Wednesday evening at 7pm.
The existing facilities at Vassilikos are the EAC Vassilikos power plant, the Vassilikos Cement Works (VCW), Vassilikos port, provider of energy storage company VTTI and Petrolina’s petroleum depots.