After decades of illegalities at Paphos harbour, the area is currently undergoing a massive cleanup, with the aim of presenting a far cleaner, tidier and uniform image.
Pergolas, awnings, illegal extensions and advertising signs, as well as other unlicensed structures have all been demolished and removed by Paphos municipality workers, in a bid to offer a more authentic experience along with showcasing the beauty of the traditional buildings.
“We are trying to clear away everything and demolish the illegal ‘extras’ attached to the heritage buildings in the area of Paphos port. We are renovating both the paving and building facades as well. This is all to make it more accessible for all of the visitors,” Paphos mayor, Phedonas Phedonos told the Sunday Mail.
Paphos harbour is steeped in history and a popular place to visit with both locals and visitors. The upgrading project for this area comes with a price tag of €900,000 according to the project’s architect, municipal architect, Christos Constantinides, who is in charge of the plans. It is part of a wider programme for the coastal area which includes upgrading the walkway and placing public furniture along the coast at a cost another €6.2 million, he said.
“There are a number of projects for this area, the first is the port where we are upgrading the paving, (where cobbles will be laid) and infrastructure, this also has a second part which will run along the seafront to Bania, and the second is the upgrading of the west pedestrian way by the seaside, which will run from the castle along to Chlorakas, this has the higher budget,” he said.
President Nicos Anastasiades in a farewell tour of the Paphos region on Friday inaugurated the city’s west coastal promenade.
“The general area is being refined so that the stone buildings of the port will be clearly visible and new metal pergolas for the restaurants, light ones not as the previous ones were, will be constructed.”
The harbour project got underway around three weeks ago and the technical services of the municipality are in charge of the upgrade. The funding has come from the EU, specifically the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) as part of the operational programme ‘Thalassa 2014/2020’.
EMFF is the legislative framework for EU co-financing in the fisheries and aquaculture sector during the period 2014-2020 and is part of the fisheries’ reform package.
‘Thalassa’ 2014-2020 has a total budget of approximately €52.6 million. The percentage of EU contribution amounts to 75.49 per cent of the total public expenditure. The remaining 24.51 per cent is allocated by the Republic of Cyprus.
The idea behind undertaking the project at present is that the restaurants are closed during winter, Constatinides said. Many have had to use professional storage facilities for their contents though whilst the work is underway. Priority is being given to this part of the project due to the special needs of the restaurants and cafes and the fact that they need to re-open and be fully operational in the summer.
“We expect to be finished in the harbour before Easter,” he said.
Work will soon begin on the next part of this project which will include the laying of new cobblestones from the harbour to Bania, the municipal baths. This section of road is also due to be permanently closed to traffic and open only for pedestrians, he said.
Undermining the revamp are the three ugly, large metal, box-like structures which were erected some time ago. These will be used as seating areas by cafes that rent spaces in the buildings of the Ports Authority and have gone to tender.
The upgrading work which saw many familiar structures torn down has caused a stir in Paphos, which is already undergoing major roadworks in many areas, with streets dug up and inaccessible. Many residents are welcoming the changes, but others believe other projects should have been finished first before tackling the harbour.
“I know our town looks a bit sorry for itself at the moment, but when it’s finished I think it will be great. It will be really good to have the harbour back to how it should be and not looking messy like before,” Costas, a local business owner said.
“The harbour will be restored to its former glory and not look like something tacky. So many events take place in this area and hopefully there will be more now, it’s a nice place to hang out. I am looking forward to seeing it when it’s finished,” added Eva, who has been visiting the area since she was a teenager, to eat and drink with friends.
However, not everyone has a positive opinion of the project.
“Why are we destroying this area of the harbour when there was nothing wrong with it. Paphos looks like a dump at the moment. Tourists are not going to come back. None of the projects which have been going on for two or three years are finished yet and I think they are destroying the character of the town. It makes no sense,” said David, a long time British resident.
The area is currently closed off to pedestrians and traffic whilst work is underway.