Disagreements and problems, primarily concerning construction materials, are putting the Paphos-Polis Chrysochous highway project on ice and threaten to postpone its implementation for up to 20 years.

The issues hindering the project’s progress include challenges in determining and finding suitable materials for embankment construction, difficulties regarding the storage of materials at depots, and lack of inert materials, such as gravel and sand, according to reports that appeared on Friday.

Most of the materials set aside for the project are considered unsuitable based on the required specifications, sources close to the project said while speaking to Sigmalive.

The project envisaged approximately 4.5 million cubic metres of soil to be excavated and about 2.5 million cubic metres of soil to be formed into embankments.

Out of the 1.2 million cubic metres of soil excavated so far, only 80,000 cubic metres have been deemed suitable for embankment construction. This is only 6.7 per cent.

Combined with the difficulty in finding suitable materials, this prolongs construction timelines and risks even a tenfold increase in the initial work time.

There’s also a shortage of storage depots for materials, as the capacity of storage depots has been reduced from 8 million cubic meters to 2.1 million cubic meters.

Consequently, the construction company will have to resort to depositing materials with private individuals. The source suggested this may result in fines against the company for using private land while designated storage spaces remained unused.

The project’s implementation is further hampered by the closure of two out of the three quarries from which inert materials would be extracted.

One quarry produces 100,000 tons of gravel and sand every year. The project requires approximately 2 million tons.

The initial timeline for the project was by the end of 2024, with the new request for an extension putting the completion of the first phase in May 2025.

Despite all the issues, during a visit to the construction site in the area of Kallepia, members of the House transport committee on Friday heard that the first phase of the highway project, running from Ayia Marinounda to Stroumbi, could be completed by the end of the year.

Following the visit, however, committee head Marinos Moushiotis he was briefed by the director general of the public works department Lefteris Eleftheriou regarding the existing problems the project faces.

He added that he did not know why work has been halted, further explaining that no workers were seen in the area on Friday.

“The most important thing is that the proper procedures are followed strictly,” he said.

Asked about the contractor’s demands, he said there is a request for €20 million, citing several factors such as the unsuitability of materials, storage of inert material, and the increased cost of some materials due to the situation in Ukraine.

Mouhiotis said all the issues have been “extensively discussed”, and solutions will be provided based on the discretion of the public works department.

“We have told both public works and contractors that we intend to address the issue very soon in front of the committee, and all stakeholders will be called upon to express their views,” he said.

The road from Ayia Marinouda to Stroumbi is approximately 15 kilometres long and will cost €86 million.

Polis Chrysochous mayor Yiotos Papachristofis said that the contractors are in consultation with the public works department and expressed hope that there will be no further delays.

“This is a very important project for the entire district. I hope that the issues raised will be resolved and managed,” he said.