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Our View: Authorities have made a complete mess in the Akamas

feature iole heavy duty machinery used in the road widening
Heavy duty machinery used in the road widening

What a complete mess the authorities have made with the road works in the Akamas. It appears that restrictions set out by the environment department, in line with the Akamas National Park Plan, have been completely ignored by the state services that set out the contract provisions for the company that was to carry out the road work.

There can be no other explanation for widening the roads by 10 metres instead of six stipulated in the plan for the area. As the contractor could not possibly have taken it upon himself to widen the roads by more than was stipulated in the contract, we can only deduce that the widening by 10 metres was in the work specifications he received from the relevant state authority.

This became apparent last week, when several ecological organisations and the Green Party alerted public opinion to what was happening in the area. When the complaints were made public, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides visited the area and reported that the works were in violation of the plans for the area. But there were mixed signals from the government.

The interior ministry insisted there had been no violation of the contract terms and was also backed by the forestry department which was responsible for overseeing the project. President Christodoulides was not convinced by these assurances and asked for work to stop as well as ordering an investigation. This did not reflect positively on his government, which gave the impression it did not know what was going on.

On Wednesday, appearing before the House environment committee, the owner of the contracting firm said that all work would stop until clear instructions were given. No doubt, the firm will seek compensation for the delay and for any changes made to the terms of the contract signed by the state.

Writing in the paper last week, the Green Party coordinator and candidate for the party leadership, Efi Xanthou, also castigated the lack of supervision at the work site. “Any visitor to the area can see that heavy machinery was operating under no serious supervision, that earthworks were underway in a haphazard way and that surplus excavated materials were being unceremoniously dumped in the sensitive Natura 2000 area… So where were these government representatives, committed under contract to oversee the works and ensure that the environment was protected? Did they not see that groundwork was laid to install electricity lines and water pipes?”

The supervision may have been absent, but even if it were present would it have stopped the contractor from doing the things that outraged even the president? According to the head of the forestry department, the contractor was adhering to the stipulations of the contract and the schematics provided by the town planning department. We hope the investigation ordered by the president will shed some light on the mess and will not cover up the devious machinations for some government agencies.

 

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