A HOUSE committee yesterday heard it was “pure luck” that there weren’t more victims in last months flash floods in which two people died.
The drainage system of the Kissonerga river in Paphos, which overflowed during recent hailstorms and resulted in the tragic death of a married couple, was built over 25 years ago and could not deal with such a horrific storm, according to the Paphos Water Development Department.
The Board’s spokesman revealed the shocking facts during yesterday’s House Interior Committee, where deputies met for a second sitting in an attempt to ascertain who was to blame for overdevelopment in the region which led to the horrific accident.
“The water conduit at the Kissonerga river was built at the beginning of the 80s. It was eight inches wide and was not designed to hold large amounts of waters,” said the department’s Paphos District Engineer, Kyriacos Spanos, adding that his department had removed the specific conduit after the accident.
Fingers have been pointed towards state authorities, who are being asked to answer for the overdevelopment of the Paphos areas in particular, the cementation of rivers and insufficient drainage systems.
But as Spanos pointed out yesterday, the public shares a large portion of responsibility in the situation. Not only do private land owners illegally move ahead with constructions and blocking rivers without town-planning permission but the situation is worsened by the fact that locals have turned the various rivers into rubbish tips.
“You find fridges, ovens, entire kitchens dumped in rivers because the rubbish tip is so far away,” said an engineer of the Paphos Municipality. “Following the violent storm, we ad filled four containers with rubbish.”
Paphos village Peyia in particular has seen a dramatic rise in development over the past few years and as the community’s spokesman told the committee, the 1980 land distribution saw the cancellation of a number of rivers in the village.
“It is pure luck that there weren’t more victims during the storm,” he said, imploring deputies to help. “There are private land owners blocking drains to satisfy their personal needs. We want the blame to be apportioned and the culprits punished”.
Committee Chairman Andros Kyprianou of AKEL pointed out the lack of unity among the Water and Town-planning departments, the municipalities and communities when it came to setting out a clear policy to deal with all the problems that were referred to during the meeting.
As all parties involved aimed the blame towards others, it remained unclear by the end of the meeting who really is responsible for the uncontrollable development, rubbish dumping and cementation of rivers without thought to the environmental consequences they impose.
Kyprianou wrapped proceedings up by requesting the relevant authorities return to the committee’s next discussion of the matter with clear measures and thoughts on how to resolve the problem and avert any future tragedies.
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006