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‘Akamas debacle will cost Cyprus dearly’

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The Akamas (photo: Silvio Rusmigo)

MPs piled on the pressure to Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou on Wednesday to come clean over the contentious investigation on the Akamas road works.

The topic has been cause for fury, with Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides embroiled after he requested the report last year as part of his investigation over the matter.

The government has yet to hand over the investigation to Michaelides, though the former agriculture minister conceded the works on Akamas were not properly done, with various irregularities identified.

During Wednesday’s House environment committee, Panayiotou pledged the road works would resume on April 2 and be wrapped by the first week of May.

Michaelides however charged there was an obstruction to his work, as the investigation has not been handed over to the audit service which seeks to carry out a probe on whether there have been irreversible damages to Akamas, the cost of the failures and who is responsible.

According to Michaelides, the case boils down to a contractor who was chosen by the government and will now make claims for the delays that he himself is responsible for.

It was the forestry department that signed the deal with the specific contractor, which Michaelides said poses a raft of questions.

Michaelides asked for starters, what were the instructions by the forestry department to the engineer to suspend the works? What were the instructions from the engineer to the contractor? What will this mean in terms of costs? What is the ministry’s plan?

Panayiotou pledged the government’s priority is to highlight Akamas’ natural wealth and ensure projects carried out leave no impact to the environment.

Akel MP Nicos Kettiros said it was unfathomable that the government was admitting restoration works would be required “but the ministry is not telling society who caused this damage.”

Disy MP Prodromos Alambritis raised the question of who will pay the price for all the mishaps, while independent MP Alexandra Attalides said Akamas’ destruction was the result of Cyprus’ construction-driven policy.

“This destruction may not be reversible. If Cyprus’ environment is destroyed then we will all pay dearly.”

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