Nicosia municipality on Wednesday sought to defend itself against claims of discrimination and announced a project is underway to make Eleftheria square and the surrounding area friendlier to the blind and the disabled.
Addressing claims made by Pancyprian organisation for the blind head Christakis Nicolaides that the city centre excludes people with disabilities, the municipality said it “categorically rejects the claims” that it excludes any group from the centre.
“The municipality systematically makes efforts to create and upgrade its infrastructure with the aim of strengthening sustainable mobility and facilitating traffic by environmentally friendly means, without discriminating against people with disabilities,” it said, citing Eleftheria square as a prime example.
“The project was designed in the spirit of many modern European cities, with shared spaces and priority given to pedestrians and the disabled to move freely within it, and pedestrian-only areas demarcated with urban furniture and warning signs.”
The municipality also pointed out that prior to the redevelopment of the commercial triangle that encompasses Eleftheria square and Makarios avenue, that meetings were held with the organisation for the blind and the paraplegics association to record their requests and concerns about the lack of blind guides in the infrastructure, which were taken seriously.
“Solutions were found to ensure a safe circulation space for the blind, and in addition to the continuous guide for the blind, a raised sidewalk was constructed to ensure an obstacle-free path separate from the pedestrian path.”
It added that the granite blocks in the commercial triangle were placed by design at specific points, 70-80 cm from the guideways for the blind and not on them to prevent vehicles from parking on sidewalks and not obstructing the free movement of all, pedestrians and the disabled.
But these cubes will soon be removed and replaced with plant pots which are easier to see, the municipality concluded.
According to a written statement, the tender for the project has been awarded and at this stage the contractor is expected to submit a schedule after the signing of the contract.
The project will have to be completed three months after its commencement.