Suspicion over ‘mystery’ items taken from old CMC mining site
PROTESTERS have voiced suspicion about lorries transporting “mystery” items out of the former CMC copper mining site at Gemikonağı.
Lefke Mayor Aziz Kaya led a demonstration outside the controversial site on Wednesday over the transportation being carried out by the firm tasked in 2007 with cleaning the area of harmful residues and rehabilitating it as a free trade zone and container port.
A government review into the deal was announced in 2016 after it emerged that the firm, Port İsbi, had done “nothing” since signing the contract.
Mr Kaya told the Tak news agency: “Port İsbi imported equipment [for the clean-up] two years ago but the project’s Environmental Impact Report [Çed] was not found suitable, hence it went no further. A new Çed report was requested but has still not been presented.”
“Yesterday four lorries and trailers arrived to remove the equipment. We expect an official explanation.”
The protesters were backed by the Lefke Environment and Promotion Association, whose head, Ahmet Hızlı, claimed no government checks were being carried out on what was being loaded on to the lorries, fuelling concerns that the cargos could include historic CMC locomotives which might be sent abroad.
Customs and Excise head Mustafa Deveci refuted the claim, saying that the lorries were operating with the approval of his office.
He said: “The equipment for cleaning was imported via Gazimağusa harbour two years ago with our full knowledge and approval. It is going to be returned to Gazimağusa and that is what all the fuss is about.
“The cargoes were inspected and loaded today so they could be taken there. The company officially applied to us for permission to do this and it was given.”
However Mr Hızlı rejected the explanation, claiming “there is something fishy going on”.
“The relevant officials should be present when they load the lorries rather than leaving them to do whatever they like. We request the State Property and Materials Department take immediate stock of the situation,” he said.
Mr Hızlı renewed calls for a fresh tender to clean the CMC site, abandoned since 1974, saying that “after rehabilitation [it] could attract investment for agriculture, education and tourism”.
Lefke Mayor Aziz Kaya (centre) led a demonstration outside the former CMC copper mining site