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Our View: No rational reason for approving Evrychou road

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Ever since the Makarios presidency, the construction of roads has always been considered a big vote-winner. We cannot say whether it is as effective today as it was in the ‘70s and ‘80s, even though the Anastasiades government seems to think so. There can be no other explanation for Wednesday’s announcement that the council of ministers had approved the construction of an 11.3km long, four-lane highway from Astromeritis to Evrychou at a cost of €70 million.

The government was at pains to justify this project, saying it “aims to solve the problems of road safety and functionality, making accessibility to the Soleas and Troodos areas easier and contribute to the economic development, social coherence and the upgrading of the quality of life of the residents of the broader area.” It had to say something considering there is no rational justification for this 11.3km stretch of four-lane highway in between two-lane roads.

The funny thing is that highway does not go to Evrychou, but to the turn-off for Kalopanayiotis, which is essentially at the foot of the mountains that it is meant to serve and several kilometres from Evrychou. Yet the government insisted that the highway “will serve the area and the access of the town and district of Nicosia to Troodos and the mountain resorts”. The new highway would cover only a tenth of the actual distance to Troodos.

If there was one part of the route from Nicosia to the mountain resorts that would genuinely be served by a highway, it is the part of the road from Akaki to Astromeritis which at present is a slow, two-lane road going through built up areas always packed with cars, because thousands of residents of the surrounding villages drive into Nicosia for work. It is this road that is always busy and at weekends has big traffic jams because of people driving to and from the mountains.

Access to the mountain resorts would be made easier by an Akaki-Astromeritis highway to replace a traffic congested rural road, that will also make driving easier for tens of thousands of people. Should the government not consider how many people a new highway would serve before it makes its construction plans? Why it has decided to build a highway after Astromeritis, from where the traffic is much less and the existing road is perfectly adequate, is something for which no rational explanation can be provided.

Unless road-building is just a vote-winning ploy which is not subject rational use of resources.


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