LARNACA port and marina redevelopment project has hit a four-month delay in signing contracts with MPs demanding an update from the government but officials said the wait will soon be over.
Larnaca’s biggest facelift will change the town’s future landscape, bringing it up to speed with the rest of Cyprus.
While local authorities, businesses and other stakeholders look forward to seeing the €1.2 billion development take-off, there are fears it might go south.
The deal has yet to be officially signed by the parties, following a final agreement with the chosen investor on 17 February.
Fears are fuelled by memories of previous failures, while negotiations between the state and Israeli-backed consortium took a couple of years to be concluded.
Larnaca Mayor Andreas Vyras told the Financial Mirror the project is likely to get back on track in the coming weeks as the government is expected to send the investor the final documents of the agreement to be signed.
“The Transport Ministry has committed to sending the investor who submitted the winning bid a formal letter informing them of their success, and the documents to be signed are to be prepared within the coming weeks so that the consortium awarded the contract will be made aware of the next steps they will need to take,” said Vyras.
He noted that that the four-month delay since the signing of the initial agreement was signed is due to the deal being tangled in red tape, with a further delay caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Asked whether the delay has caused the investors any annoyance, Vyras said that the consortium had complained as the final agreement should have been signed a couple of weeks after the sides shook hands in February.
“However, the important thing is that the project is being put back on track, with the town of Larnaca will reap the benefits of this multimillion project once it gets off the ground.
“This area has been underutilised for so long, but there is now a new vision for Larnaca which took over three years to negotiate, it is finally materialising.”
Vyras said the project will directly benefit the local economy with 4,000 new jobs created.
Larnaca DISY MP Annita Demetriou welcomed the fact that the project “is much closer to going ahead than ever before”.
“The joint project of developing the town’s port and marina is the largest development and infrastructure project in the city and province of Larnaca, it’s close to becoming a reality.
“The process is finally moving forward as a result of the consensus approach required to address this kind of essential issue for Larnaca and Cyprus’ growth”.
She noted that the project enjoys the support of the government, the Transport Ministry, but also of all involved parties.
Demetriou said parliament was told the legal services have completed the review of the documents involved and submitted them to the Ministry.
“The government will submit the roadmap for action to be taken by the investor and the state itself.”
Opposition AKEL and Larnaca MP Evanthia Savva said her party was particularly concerned over the delay as this is a make-or-break project for the town.
She told the Financial Mirror that AKEL MPs had tabled the issue for discussion as there was an inexplicable delay in signing the contracts for a done deal.
“We discussed the matter, a day after being told that the deal had just been approved by the state’s legal services and is going ahead.”
She argued that her party tabled the matter for discussion not with the intent of getting into a political row with the government, but out of genuine concern.
“We are also concerned about some particular aspects of the project, such as the environmental impact on the area, which will need to be looked into.
“This cannot be known without actually seeing the deal in writing. That is why we have asked the government to submit the documents to the House, which they have declined.”
She said Larnaca’s six MPs are on the same page when it comes to the marina and port project as it is vital for the future development of the town.
“Unfortunately, past delays and failures have made us extremely wary when it comes to such sensitive projects,” said Savva.
Cyprus had reached an agreement with Israeli investors for the long-awaited €1.2 billion redevelopment of Larnaca port and marina, the island’s largest infrastructure project of its kind, in February.
The tender was won by Cypriot-Israeli consortium Kition Ocean Holdings.
The project covers the restructuring of Larnaca marina for 650 berths, the port and surrounding land development over an area of 332,449 sqm which is expected to see the consortium invest more than €1 billion.
As part of the marina development, there will be a yacht club with a retail park, a passenger terminal at the port plus hotels, a private island and residential properties.
The unprecedented scale of the project includes residential and commercial development with innovative architecture, streets, and parks.