Larnaca port’s over one billion euro investment project is cloaked in mystery, it emerged on Monday as MPs called for transparency amid rising concerns over the grand scheme.

Nothing whatsoever is known about the timeframe of the project, and no one had been permitted to see the original contract, Larnaca Chamber of Commerce President Nakis Antoniou told CyBC radio.

According to Antoniou, the company has said its hands were tied due to the government refusing to discuss certain issues, and effectively asked local stakeholders to apply their influence on the state.

With a budget of €1.2 billion, the Larnaca marina and port, inaugurated exactly two years ago by outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, represented the largest infrastructure investment ever on the island.

“I want to express mine and the government’s satisfaction for yet another successful project that is now underway in our country, one that was on the cards for decades,” Anastasiades said at the time.

According to the latest announcement by project manager Cypriot-Israeli consortium Kition Ocean Holdings, work on project is supposed to start in May or June but there is no activity in evidence on the ground.

Minister of Transport Alexis Vafeades has expressed unease with repeated delays and said the ultimate measure could be contract termination, while the company has longstanding requests for changes in the sequence of works, for which the ministry is not the relevant decision-maker.

Since the project’s inauguration, Kition Ocean Holdings sold stakes to global real estate giant Aroundtown SA, founded by Israeli business tycoon Yakir Gabay who also holds Cypriot citizenship, and has made significant investments in Cyprus, including in a massive €856 million investment in Ayia Phyla, in Limassol.

Aroundtown SA now holds an 80 per cent share in the project.

No one has seen the contract, not parliament, not the municipality, nor the ministry or the port authorities,” Antoniou said.

It appears local stakeholders have been told that the contract cannot be shared due to confidentiality clauses.

Diko MP Michalis Yiakoumi said the matter has been tabled for discussion at the House transport committee on April 18.

“All stakeholders will be present to examine the cause for the delays and request to see the agreement,” he said.

Akel’s Andreas Pasiourtides said MPs had requested to be privy to details as early as 2021 while the contract was being negotiated, and had been told by then Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos that they had to await the signed contract.

Once the contract was signed, confidentiality clauses were cited as a reason not to reveal its contents. However, there is a process by which MPs can have access to the document, he said.

He said a government supervisory group has been installed to monitor the works and that this group will be asked to account.

“We know that a couple of red lines were put in place [by the state] including that existing port users must remain, and concerning a cap on activities carried out at the [Larnaca] port, which has now been done away with,” the Akel MP said.

He added that it was known “through hearsay” that the project involved the creation of villas, two universities, commercial centres, two hotels and three apartment blocks.

Works on the road network for all this, connecting Finikoudes to Larnaca’s old port, should have been started but despite the permit having been granted, nothing was happening, according to the MP.

In October 2022, some works were carried out including opening of a café, a playground with a trampoline, and a large parking lot for use of which a fee is charged. Light renovation works were also completed in November on one quay. However, since then, the project appears to have stalled.

ETEK President Constantinos Constanti expressed astonishment that local stakeholders could and had been be kept in the dark over the mammoth project’s nuts and bolts.

“Surely society has the right to know on what basis the agreements were made, what will be built, and what the timeframe is,” he said.