The rate of progress on the under-construction road between Paphos and Polis Chrysochous is “worrying”, Paphos chamber of commerce chairman George Mais said on Monday.

He said he considers the road to be of “vital importance” for the Paphos district and especially for the Polis Chrysochous area, and that any further suspension of work “cannot be accepted”.

For this reason, he called on the contractor and on Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades to “come to the negotiation table in good faith” so that a mutually acceptable solution could be found to the various disagreements which have arisen so far.

The project thus far has been hindered by issues including difficulties in finding suitable materials for the construction of embankments, trouble in the storage of materials at depots, and the lack of basic materials such as gravel and sand.

Last month, sources close to the project said most of the materials set aside were considered unsuitable based on the required specifications.

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 – 6.7 per cent of that which has been excavated – have been deemed suitable for embankment construction.

Combined with the difficulty in finding suitable materials, this prolongs construction timelines and could risk as much as a tenfold increase in the time required to carry out the project.

During a House transport committee visit to the site in April, it was heard that the first phase of the project, connecting the villages of Ayia Marinouda and Stroumbi, should be completed by the end of the year.

However, Mais doubted this assessment on Monday, describing the aim as “unattainable” as only 30 per cent of the project has so far been completed.

He added that the contractor has submitted a request for an extension of the project’s completion time by 33 months, and that that request is now before the committee on changes and claims.

With this in mind, he decried the “serious financial and other claims” being made by the contractor, as well as “other problems which are leading the project to a dead end”.

He also called on Vafeades to “immediately” begin procedures for the second phase of the project, which will connect Stroumbi and Polis Chrysochous, effectively dividing the project into two separate sections.

This, he said, will allow the project to run quicker.