Newsroom / CNA
The highly anticipated Lefka and Dherynia crossing points have opened today at 12:00 local time. Hundreds of people have gathered in Dherynia to mark the opening of the crossing points.
The crossings, with the first opening in 2003, have revitalized re-approachment efforts in the divided island and have contributed significantly to the rejuvenation of the capital city Nicosia.
The Lefka crossing point in the north west will allow for direct travel between Morfou and villages in the Troodos mountains. The Dherynia crossing in the south east of the island will serve as a link between the Ayia Napa area and Famagusta.
There was a minor protest in Dherynia against the opening but the majority of the people gathered expressed feelings of elation.
Speaking to Kathimerini many bystanders said that today's day feels like a dream, as they will go to the north to see their homes after 44 years. With tears in his eyes Mr. Andreas of Kato Dherynia, told Kathimerini that "today I feel like I was born again since I’m going to see my home where I grew up."
"This road we have taken every day before and it seems unreal that we can walk here again," he said.
The moment the barbed wire was removed, the crowd applauded.
UNFICYP chief Elizabeth Spehar said in a statement: “Today is good day for Cyprus. We welcome opening of the first crossing points in 8 years. These crossing points will play an important role by increasing people-to-people contacts; contribute to building much-needed trust & confidence between communities.”
The EU-funded and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implemented road works in Lefka and Dherynia have been completed, UNDP announced last Friday.
According to a press release, the European Union as part of its Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community funded the road works for the section in the buffer zone and its northern part. The crossings in Lefka and Dherynia will be respectively the fourth and fifth crossings funded by the European Union.
The total amount invested so far by the European Union to support the opening of all five crossings in Cyprus since 2006 is approximately €6,5 million.
Regarding Lefka crossing, the overall length of the improved road is 1,260 meters, including the buffer zone and its northern part. Ditches were constructed where required on both sides of the road for rain water conveyance. Retaining walls, gabions, box and pipe culverts were constructed at locations identified by the project. Guardrails, road signs and road markings were placed for traffic management and safety.
As far as Dherynia crossing is concerned, the overall length of the improved road is 2,915 meters, including the buffer zone and its northern part. Ditches were constructed where required on both sides of the road for rain water conveyance. Box culverts and a drainage pipeline were constructed to facilitate flow of rainwater in the low areas. Road signs and road markings have been placed for traffic management and safety.