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Our View: Time to rethink knee-jerk reactions to tragedies

The Akamas was the scene of Saturday's tragic accident

We witnessed another terrible tragedy at the weekend that could have been avoided if authorities had acted on time instead of again resorting to a knee-jerk reaction followed by the blame game and eventually apathy until the next time someone dies because some small timely step was not taken when it should have been.

On Saturday a car went off a cliff on a remote dirt track in the Akamas and a Russian couple visiting the island were killed. The immediate reaction was to close the road despite the problems it would create for locals.

The knee-jerk reaction is similar to the one that ensued when a boy died in school in May after falling while playing basketball, a terrible tragedy, or the abduction of two boys from school recently, the reaction to which was a rush to make schools safer, or in this case, to be put practically on lockdown.

That’s not to say taking such action was not justified. The question is why does no one think of these things and take sensible measures before tragedies occur? It’s almost always a case of ‘rinse, spin repeat’ with everything from accident black spots to drownings on the island’s beaches to ambulance delays.

In every case there is no beating of breasts until lives are lost and those few voices who may sound the alarm in advance are not being listened to. The two Russians who died on Saturday are not statistics. They were people with lives, family and friends who came here for a holiday and never got to go home.

The local community leader Andreas Christodoulou had urged authorities in September to take action to make the road in question safer before someone was seriously hurt or killed after around ten accidents, although no fatalities, over the summer. In one of those instances, a motorcyclist plunged off the cliff in the same spot as the Russian couple.

For the last two years, no repairs had been carried out at all on a road that has been described as “hazardous, narrow in places, much of which runs along the cliff edge and is full of twists and turns”.

That ten accidents happened over the summer should be enough of a reason to have acted much sooner. In a world where logic prevails it would have. It was only a matter of time before someone died and there are many more such roads around the island where drivers are only inches away from plunging off a cliff or into a ravine because there are no barriers erected.

The cost of making the dirt track in the Akamas safer would not have dented state coffers, especially when one considers the state plans to put some 60 million euros into the Paphos-Polis road to save eight minutes’ driving time.

From a country that puts so much store in its tourist product, it’s definitely time to think about what’s more important: more roads or safer roads.


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