Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades addressed the traffic problem, stating that the solution does not lie in building more roads, but rather in reducing the number of cars on the existing roads. During an interview with Oriana Papantoniou on DIASPORA News, Vafeades explained that constructing more roads would only lead to an increase in the number of cars on the streets.
Instead, the Ministry is focusing on implementing a bus-centric approach with improved routes and more frequent services to cater to a larger population. In September, a pilot program for bus routes originating from the GSP Stadium will be launched. These priority buses will transport citizens to Nicosia's city center swiftly, with affordable to free ticket options.
"In 5-10 years we should have the intercity roads, namely Polis Chrysochous - Paphos and Saita - Limassol."
Beyond buses, the Minister emphasized the importance of micro-mobility solutions. Strengthening cycling infrastructure, which is currently lacking, is a priority. Additionally, better conditions for pedestrians to walk comfortably in hot weather are sought. Vafeades expressed the desire to promote cycling, scooters, and pedestrian-friendly environments to address the traffic issue.
The traffic on the outskirts of Nicosia
In an interview with Sunday's Kathimerini and Maria Herakleous, Vafeades expressed his views on the traffic situation. He acknowledged that the completion of the perimeter road, with its first phase expected to be finished in a year, will be a significant improvement. However, he also noted that he does not anticipate it to completely resolve traffic and urban issues. As the city's buildings become denser and its population increases, more cars will continue to fill the roads, posing ongoing challenges.
According to Vafeades, the solution lies not in constructing more roads but in exploring alternative modes of transportation for people. This includes prioritizing buses and micro-mobility options such as bikes, scooters, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. At the intercity level, the Intercity service has gained popularity, with its buses running at full capacity. In his ideal scenario, Vafeades hopes for increased and denser connections that can accommodate a larger number of passengers.
The Polis Chrysochous-Paphos and Saita-Lemesos roads
When asked about the construction progress of the new Polis Chrysochous-Paphos road, Vafeades responded, "The first phase is underway, and considerable work has already been completed on the tunnel, with 700 meters of the first tunnel already constructed. The goal is to finish the first phase by December 2024 before commencing the second phase," he stated, emphasizing that there is a significant journey ahead. He expressed the view that once a project has commenced, it should receive adequate funding for completion to reap the benefits of the overall project. Failing to complete it would be illogical. The communities in the area have shared the same sentiment, showing great interest and support for the project despite its substantial costs. He also mentioned that progress has begun on the Limassol-Saita road (the first phase is underway).
When asked about the timeline for completing the Limassol-Saita road and its impact on Cyprus' road network, he responded with a projected horizon of over five years but within a decade. While unable to determine an exact timeline, the interurban roads must be implemented during this period. The Limassol-Saita road is of great importance, as it not only enhances the resilience of local economies in mountainous Limassol but also enables Limassol residents, due to its significant commercial activity, to access and live in the mountainous regions and communities. Additionally, plans for two private foreign language schools on the Limassol-Saita road will serve the local community in Limassol.
Meeting regarding Paphos road
The minister emphasized the identification of three crucial projects in Paphos. One of these projects is the improvement of the road leading from the Tombs of the Kings to the potential marina location, which is currently in a degraded state. Another important aspect is the construction of a bypass to link two other roads, aimed at enhancing the residents' quality of life.
Regarding the airport, the minister discussed the possibility of establishing a direct connection to the city of Paphos by crossing the River Ezousa. However, this proposal faces challenges due to environmental concerns raised by the Department of Environment. When asked if this obstacle halts the project, Vafeades clarified that they are attentively considering the Department of Environment's advice.