Alalum has prevailed lately regarding the issue of Makarios Avenue, with opinions differing on what really needs to be done and whether the Municipality of Nicosia is indirectly trying to change the philosophy of a project that was designed, in theory, for man. In recent days, after the approval by the Chief of Police of the request of the municipality to temporarily allow the free passage of vehicles, much has been heard and written about whether or not to allow, even temporarily, the free passage of vehicles. The fire of what is said and written is directed towards the decision taken by the municipality. There is, however, the other side of the coin. As we are informed, a large portion of residents, businessmen and professionals active in the area reacted strongly with the decision to close the boulevard during the Christmas period, but also in the event that the passage of vehicles is not allowed. Evidence provided by “P” proves that the decision of the Municipality of Nicosia, to give free access to Makarios, was not taken only because there was no traffic control system or legal framework that was never done, but the decision also took seriously the public, but also behind the scenes, pressure from those who still want free movement of vehicles on the once busy boulevard.
According to letters obtained by “P”, businessmen operating in the area reacted strongly from the beginning with the ban on vehicles in Makariou. There was a strong reaction from law firms operating in the area, as well as from the Association of Shopkeepers of POVEK, which in a letter to the Municipality of Nicosia emphasizes the need for vehicles in Makarios for the viability of those companies that have endured, restoring the commerciality of the road. All the protesters argued that Makariou is the main thoroughfare that connects the wider shopping center of the city with Eleftherias Square and any ban on vehicle traffic will cause a chain of negative effects and consequences throughout the city center.
The institutional framework
The big problem was actually caused by the absence of the institutional framework so that the installation and implementation of the photo-labeling system could proceed. The original design was for two-way movement of only authorized cars, ie residents, employees, buses, taxis and loading and unloading companies. The Municipality of Nicosia during the week reversed its shots to the co-competent bodies, Ministry of Transport, Public Works, Police, in order to help implement both the temporary solution and to create the conditions that will allow the initial planning to proceed. To date, this has not been possible. In a statement, the Municipality of Nicosia stated that many of the infrastructure projects that would contribute in this direction and would create a comparative advantage for the bus over the car, have not been implemented, significantly delaying the effective operation of the project. He also called on the relevant ministries to proceed immediately with the creation of the required institutional framework, so that the system of control of the entry of authorized cars provided by the photo-marking system, and is an integral part of the original design, which is already available and fully ready by the Municipality of Nicosia, to be put into operation. “Let us remind those services or departments, which are responsible for creating the specific institutional framework, which urge the municipality to follow another method of control, that this discussion preceded the start of the project and any proposals submitted were deemed dysfunctional and inapplicable. “, He stated in his announcement.
Police Spokesman Christos Andreou, in a statement on January 12, clarified that the Chief of Police had given temporary approval for a one-way section of Archbishop Makarios GD Avenue in Nicosia. Responding to a question about the reactions regarding the one-way department, Mr. Andreou said that the Chief of Police, Stelios Papatheodorou, gave temporary approval with a period of time until February 15, 2022, in order to initially give the necessary time to complete the work in south of the Avenue, but first of all to give time and the technical committee to meet again to study the whole issue “as we have agreed with the competent services”. The Municipality of Nicosia, with its announcement in response to the publications, tried to justify its decision, clarifying once again that the solution that is applied is temporary and does not aim to change even the initial planning. “It is our view that even with the temporary solution, the goal of sustainable mobility seems to be achieved, which is an absolute priority in the whole project. “It should be reminded that a) the 3 lanes for cars were reduced to 1 b) a bus lane was created c) wider, level sidewalks were created d) tree lines were planted e) a number of small squares etc. were created”, he stated.
The opposite views
The Scientific and Technical Chamber of Cyprus (ETEK) has expressed its opposition, as the approval for free access of cars contradicts the terms of the original design of the project. Contrary to the approval given by the Police for free movement of vehicles on Makariou Avenue is the Ministry of Transport, which claims that this development affects the plans of the ministry, since, since the planning is the one-way of the entire avenue, both the southern and the northern part, but only one part is one-way, means that it will not be possible to create the bus lane, nor to proceed with the Integrated Nicosia Mobility Plan.
The Auditor General of the Republic, Odysseas Michailidis, also expressed his opposition to the decisions taken by the Municipality of Nicosia, with the consent of the Police. In a letter he sent on the matter to the Municipality of Nicosia, from which he asks for his views on the matter, before informing the European Court of Auditors regarding the utilization of the European fund which co-finances the reconstruction project of Makarios. Speaking to politis.com.cy in the middle of the week, the spokesman of the Audit Office, Marios Petridis, explained that if the free access of vehicles to Makarios was allowed, the original plan based on which the European funding was given would be overturned and the Audit Office would suggest to the audit authorities to dismiss the project. He added that his disintegration implies non-financing by the European Union and the inclusion of other mature projects, so that the Republic of Cyprus does not lose money. However, if the project for the reconstruction of Makarios is excluded, its financing will now be borne exclusively by the Municipality of Nicosia. The decision of the ATHEX Group was added to the reactions on Friday. Papaellina to freeze his business plans in this commercial street. The decision was led by the Group, as mentioned in the announcement, “the uncertainty about the impact on the historic center of the capital and the concern of the possible perpetuation of a particularly problematic situation”.