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12° Nicosia,
24 July, 2024
 
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This is how Lara will be developed

Local government reform is shaping Cyprus' future while igniting controversy

Opinion

Opinion

by Demetris Lottides*

The reform of local government undeniably represents a crucial stride towards modernizing our state. It serves as a vital instrument for enhancing the quality of life for citizens and plays a pivotal role in Cyprus' pursuit of sustainable development and urban mobility. The previous government engaged in consultations with municipalities, communities, and affected interest groups to ensure a thorough understanding of this significant change. However, regrettably, the consultation process has once again devolved into a partisan competition, with party interests taking center stage on the electoral map.

For residents of Aglantzia, the integration into the Nicosia Municipality represents a noteworthy transformation. Nonetheless, it is unlikely to dramatically alter their daily lives or impact their future. The same cannot be said for remote communities, where the decisions made within the closed rooms of government offices and by MPs will determine the future of the few families determined to conduct their businesses there. Particularly in the case of the Akamas communities nestled within the renowned Laona region, where individuals grapple daily with land, livestock, and small enterprises, a single ill-advised decision can shape the lives of future generations. Such choices become decisive factors in determining whether young people will choose to stay and invest their lives and futures in these areas. Consequently, it is puzzling to comprehend the logic that led the Parliament, especially the AKEL, DIKO, and Movement of Ecologists parties, to "divide" the tightly-knit Akamas community cluster against the wishes of its residents. They have failed to provide an explanation as to why they opted to split two neighboring villages, Droushia and Inia, which share zoning regulations. Consequently, one village located 16 kilometers away now falls under the jurisdiction of Polis Chrysochous, while the other, situated 17 kilometers away, falls under the jurisdiction of Pegeia. In reality, those familiar with the area know that residents of these eight villages function as a unified entity. They may hail from Inia, reside in Droushia, and have their agricultural plots located in Akourdalia. As a result, they find themselves dealing with paperwork and municipal services across three different municipalities or clusters, despite their lives being confined to a single square kilometer. They are forced to travel 30 kilometers to access the necessary municipal services!

The potential rationale behind the Parliament's decisions becomes more intriguing when we consider the municipalities that our MPs have created, defying the advice of foreign experts and disregarding the proposals put forth by the previous government. The Municipality of Peyia, entangled not only in multiple ecological scandals involving environmental violations but also responsible for allowing the construction of the last remaining rock on the western edge of Cyprus, now assumes control over the country's most crucial habitats, namely Lara, Toxeftra, and Ammoudi. It is noteworthy that this initiative was spearheaded by the Movement of Ecologists, with support from the environmentally conscious AKEL and DIKO parties. On the ground, the Municipality of Pegeia, rebranded as the new "Municipality of West Paphos," will oversee a 25-kilometer stretch of coastline extending from Kissonerga to Lara's Ammoudi. This development carries significant implications for the interests of specific land developers who, as I have heard, are engaged in long-term strategies and have already acquired substantial rural parcels. It remains a mystery how these decisions have influenced their actions.

*Demetris Lottidis is the editor of Kathimerini Cyprus.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original]

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Paphos  |  Akamas

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