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Pissouri homeowners plead with MPs

Residents of Pissouri on Thursday pleaded with MPs to help with mounting problems as a result of continuing landslides in the area, including the banks coming after them.

They sought assistance so that a decision can be requested from the banks for all those affected by the Pissouri landslides in terms of facilities for their home loans. Pissouri community leader Lazaros Lazarou expressed concern about any delays in the repair works to deal with the landslides, which could make the situation even worse.

In a statement after the meeting, Lazarou expressed thanks to the interior minister and the state in general for starting the shoring up project.

But he also cautioned that there should not be a gap between the first and second phase of the project, “because we believe that it may also call into question its effectiveness.”

Lazarou said he sent the message that as a community, “we demand the seamless continuation of this project, and we thank all those who share this view and are working towards it.”

Asked about the view of the Scientific and Technical Chamber (Etek) – that it was better to have a four-to-six month period between the first and second phases to see if the projects are effective – Lazarou said they were “surprised” to hear that opinion, which he said had been absent during the eight previous meetings with the committee and other agencies on the issue.

“We now find their interest very belated, and we are concerned that their attempt to find a better solution might prevent or delay the good solution that seems to have started to pay off,” he said.

Even six months of delay, Lazarou said, is significant enough to make the situation even worse.

Asked if they knew that the area was unsuitable for housing construction, he said that most of the people who built homes in the area were from Pissouri, and that if they had any idea that probably after 30 years this phenomenon would occur, they would not have built there.

“Of course they didn’t know, but neither did those in charge, they had no idea” when the area was included in the residential zone, he said.

Over 20 houses have been deemed unfit and residents have been asked to vacate them, but several others have been severely damaged.

According to Georgia Ellina-Zoi, spokesperson for the Pissouri Residents Initiative Group, about 250 houses have been affected.

Zoi said they have raised two issues with the House interior affairs committee. The first concerns the loans of people who have been forced out of their homes, and who are now paying rent but their mortgage suspension is running out.

Zoi said they had asked the banks to suspend the payments, but because a long time has passed the banks have now come back and are asking for the payments again.

“We have sought help so that a decision can be sought from the banks in totality for all those affected in the Pissouri landslide area,” she added.

The second issue has to do with the safety of the houses, which have been abandoned but are full of personal belongings.

Zoi noted that a number of thefts have taken place. She said owners are calling the police, “who are refusing to intervene in the matter, so we have asked the committee and those present on behalf of the government to take some measures to protect these properties.”

On the issue of the works underway, Zoi explained that Phase 1 does not relate to the landslide area but rather the area outside it so that it does not expand.

The work concerning the landslide area, she said, is the construction of a counterweight barrier and some piling work within the landslide area, which will reduce the pressure on that whole area.

Zoi added that whenever there is a very wet winter in Cyprus there are rapid movements in the area, which has been residentially developed for the last 30 years without a sewerage system.

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