So, what’s going on in Famagusta and Paralimni?
About two years ago, I wrote about the three containers placed in Protaras placed on the beach, yet beyond the beach protected zone, some 200 meters north of the Yianna Marie. Arranged in line, all three have been turned into holiday homes with stone and wooden trunks, similar to a cow boy farm, extended with pergolas, lawn was planted, but there is no road, no clean water, no electricity and no sanitation or sewerage link, thus infecting the beach. They have been lined along the pedestrian area of Protaras, supposedly the jewel in the resort, yet in full view of local and foreign visitors, while some even have billboard up saying they are available for rent.
During a visit last week and to my great surprise (as I had expected the Mayor or the District Officer to be sensitised enough to issue a demolition order), I observed that additional containers have cropped up, with the total for the “settlement” now reaching seven units.
Along the same road and with a similar technique used, one can find three ‘café’ pubs again without proper road access, toilets, etc., that have been in full operation for four years, with the tolerance of the local authorities.
Additionally, there are some hotels that have illegally grabbed public or government land that lies within the protection zone of the beach, they have erected facilities and kiosks that operate as outdoor cafes, selling alcoholic drinks, etc. While the Town Planning Authority prohibits the construction of a private road access to a private residence within the protection zone, these same authorities have built public parking areas within the protection zone. A contradiction, wouldn’t you say Mr District Officer?
For the owners or operators of these facilities to have the audacity and outright ridicule of the law, they must surely be enjoying the behind-the-scenes support or otherwise of certain public officials, probably within the Paralimni municipality itself. Certainly, I do not want to blame the honourable public officials (Mayor and District Officer) for purposely turning a blind eye to what is going on in the area, but regardless of what actions they have or seem to have taken, surely the illegal operation of the various cafés, pubs and “holiday homes” in the past 3-4 years cannot be justified. Could it be that the Attorney General’s office has stumbled upon a major obstacle that prevents legal action from being taken to demolish these eyesores and hazards of health and safety? Or is the Attorney General unaware of the situation?
So, to put it into context, a house on the beach of Protaras has an average selling price of EUR 7,000/sq.m. In this case, we’re talking about the conversion of a 70 sq.m. container, which even with a sales value of EUR 3,500/sq.m. equals 245,000, minus the purchase cost of container and conversion of about 35,000. Thus, the net profit along with land is EUR 210,000. This means that with an investment of EUR 35,000 you can earn a cool EUR 210,000 (along with the land). Not bad for those who believe that gambling, prostitution and drugs can turn an easy profit. The moral of the story is simple: build fearlessly and illegally and the Mayor will probably not do anything.
Perhaps it is about time that the competent Minister of Interior looks into the matter because the blatant violations are unbearable. It is not right that on the one hand, remarks are made about fully licensed buildings for menial issues, that an entire legislation has been introduced for urban development amnesty in the case of buildings that were built with proper permits, but may have some minor irregularities, while on the other hand to tolerate this gross illegality, on the most expensive beach in Cyprus, a beach where the state has invested millions. It is also unfair for other legitimate businesses and developers, as well as restaurant and other licensed facility owners to be forced to compete with these ridiculous situations.
There is a complete lack of enforcement of the law, especially in blatant and unacceptable cases. Coastal land is converted into parking lots, ramps for children and the disabled are being taken over by cars for parking, while construction work goes on at all hours of the weekend, especially in the case of illegal alterations at hotels and other businesses. The municipality of Paralimni is calling on people from other districts to visit their area, but for what? To see the beautiful nature that God gave us but also to witness the tolerance with which local authorities allow these illegals to destroy it?
Shame on whoever is responsible for this situation.