RESIDENTS of Pissouri whose homes are crumbling due to a landslide, and their supporters, are continuing to press for action and are calling on the state to stop wasting time and to assume responsibility.
A news release from the residents said: ‘No more mockery, it’s a landslide.’ The announcement was from the Pissouri Housing Initiative Group (PHIG) and was also signed and supported by Pissouri community council, and political parties Akel, Greens, Citizens’ Alliance, Animal Party, and Elam, said lawyer for the homeowners, Elina Zoi.
“It is made in response to Auditor-general, Odysseas Michaelides’ comments at the beginning of the month that the state has no obligation to compensate the homeowners of damaged properties,” she said.
This move came after it seemed as though the residents’ long battle for compensation was coming to a close.
“The Interior Ministry said that the Auditor-General pointed out that a decision to compensate the affected owners by the government will create a precedent for similar cases and is basically a gift to the developers who sold the residences to unsuspecting buyers,” said the announcement. “The victims of the landslide are victims of a natural disaster. Their lives are at risk every day.”
The group call on the Auditor-General to visit the area and see the landslide for himself, and to investigate state officials who have “wasted €870.000 over seven years to cover up the problem with the intention of forcing the residents to leave on their own.”
They also question who has been advising the Ministry of Interior that it’s not a landslide, but “settlement” and “subsidence”, and question where the water came from.
“There is no sewage system, or rainwater drainage network and the landslide in today’s affected area was activated the year following the completion of the project in the neighbouring area on Anexartisias Street,” the residents said.
In 2015, property owners formed PHIG and paid thousands of euros to obtain studies and papers from various renowned international experts, as well as satellite imaging, at a cost of €25,000. Then the land movement was up to 40 cm per year, it is now almost that figure every month.
The group also call on the Attorney-General to advise on the responsibilities of the state for the protection of the right to property under Article 23 of the Constitution and the right to a decent existence under Article 9.
“We will provide the AG with all the information that we have given to the authorities and the House of Representatives. We are sure that he will not receive it from the ministry of the interior which will try to concoct an opinion that will absolve its employees and condemn the victims of the landslide.”
Last weekend, the community of Pissouri blocked the Limassol to Paphos highway to demonstrate against the lack of compensation from the state and support the victims of the continuous and accelerating land slippage, which has caused homes to crumble.
Homeowners took the streets because human rights are being violated and people’s lives and property are at risk, said the group.
“The government has been mocking residents for seven years and keeps repeating allegations that have proven to be false.”
The announcement also highlights what it refers to as ‘untruths’ from the Ministry of the Interior, who, “force people in European Cyprus to live in conditions that resemble a war zone but in a time of peace.”
They also note that the houses with structural problems are only because they had the misfortune to be on the fissures created by the active landslide.
“Untruthfully, the Ministry refers to lakes that were filled in; it seeks to create misconceptions. The aerial photographs of the land office show that the area hasn’t changed since 1963.”
They add that after drilling boreholes in 2013, the geological surveys department informed the ministry that there is a landslide and that multiple letters have been sent confirming this opinion.
“If the state had assumed responsibility and constructed the necessary infrastructure recommended by the geological surveys department as early as 2012, then it would not have wasted €870,000 in filling fissures and repairing roads and pavements. Fewer houses would have been destroyed and residents wouldn’t live in a constant nightmare that sends them to the hospital with heart attacks and strokes. The problem would not have spread so much so that now even the village is in danger.”
The announcement also requests that the technical chamber ETEK clarify the responsibilities of a civil engineer and what they should check.
“How is it possible for any professional to be responsible for not predicting risks for which they had no information?”