JOHN Knowles, a retiree in Paphos, cooks his morning porridge on a camping gas ring. He has not bothered to buy a cooker – because he does not have mains electricity.
The 73-year-old ex-British Army serviceman, who once served in Cyprus, lives in an unfinished complex in Marathounda. Its developer has gone bust and is un-contactable.
The estate may be called Paradise Hills – but life there is hellish, its handful of desperate residents say.
“I was hoping for a retirement dream, like everyone does,” Knowles told The Cyprus Mail yesterday. “But I feel as if I’m squatting in my own home.”
Knowles, who moved to Cyprus two years ago and lives alone, added: “To have electricity would be like heaven to me. To be able to turn on the radio first thing in the morning – just to hear another voice – and then put the kettle on for a cup of tea would be magic.”
Knowles lives in one of just three occupied homes in Paradise Hills, which has 50 properties. Two other families living there permanently recently returned to Britain because they could not bear the conditions.
The site’s Paphos-based property developer, MDB properties, is in the hands of the administrators. Its managing director is rumoured to have fled the island. The Cyprus Mail did manage to speak to the former after sales manager of MDB properties who said she had “only been an employee of the company” and had no idea where her ex boss was now. She could provide no further information. “It was all such a long time ago,” she said.
Paradise Hills is what Britons call a “ghost estate” – an unfinished housing development abandoned due to the economic downturn.
Lance Hames, a 52-year-old security guard and one of the remaining stalwarts, said: “Our dreams of a better life in Cyprus have been completely shattered. We’re living on a site which has been three quarters finished.”
He added: “We have to use power from a generator which we all clubbed in to buy. It’s very expensive and unbearably noisy to run.” It only runs for part of the day.
Because there is no mains electricity, the sewer system does not work, which Hames fears poses “a serious health risk”.
He said the Electricity Authority of Cyprus disconnected the complex’s temporary supply without notice about a month after they moved in two years ago.
“When we moved in to our villa, there was electricity, which the developer had connected illegally, but he didn’t tell us that. But he said it was a temporary measure for a month until we were connected properly.”
But, according to Hames, when the EAC found out they disconnected they supply. The EAC will provide a building contractor with a temporary supply of electricity for construction purposes, but a permanent supply is not made available until the building project has been signed off and completed which never happened in this case.
The road into the village has yet to be completed – residents rely on one small track.
Hames and his beautician wife Tracey looked at numerous properties in Cyprus before deciding on one in Paradise Hills.
“We were aware that there were problems connected with buying in Cyprus and we did everything we could have.”
The couple paid their last instalment just a few months before MDB went into administration.
Tracey Hames, a beautician, said: “I have lost more than three stone in weight and I have a stress-related illness. I can’t take any more.”
Despite their nightmarish experience, the couple still love the “beautiful island” where they have “good jobs”. They would stay put – if only the development is finished and the electricity connected.
Polis Mouzouris the EAC’s assistant area manager of the planning department explained that the owners of the houses have to find an electrician to submit to the EAC drawings of the electrical installations for inspection.
“I will do what I can to help,” he said, adding that he had now arranged a meeting with the Hames couple and a representative of the EAC’s commercial department for next week.