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Pissouri Residents Interviewed Over Landslide Destruction Costs
Evicted Pissouri homeowners this week won their long battle for government compensation over properties ruined by a destructive, prolonged and ongoing landslip, and are concerned government efforts may be too little and too late.
The issue has been ongoing for over a decade, with the first recorded report of a resident seeing a large crack in a pavement close to their home in 2012. Ever since, property owners in the Limnes part of Pissouri have seen swimming pools destroyed, cavernous cracks appearing gardens and roads, causing walls to split and electrical wires from power lines to break.
The Head of the House interior committee, Andreas Kyprianou, announced that the government is aware of the problem and is intending to compensate owners of homes affected by the landslide. The amount each receives will be determined at a later stage.
Elina Konstantopoulou, Solicitor of the Pissouri Housing Initiative Group (PHIG) is concerned that any compensation will come out of the overall €24 million the government has quoted it would give to fix all aspects of the problem which involves rebuilding the houses, compensating the affected home owners and most importantly reconstructing the damaged areas.
“I am concerned about the amount they have quoted that is required to deal with everything, and the amount to me seems to be far too small” with this amount looking like the correct funding for a full-scale technical study on the problem plus whatever extensive and pricey structural and infrastructure works will be required.
Peter Field is an 80-year-old Retiree from the UK who was one of the original residents forced to leave his home due to the landslide. Reporters from several newspaper and radio channels caught up with him and several other affected families in Pissouri. He says that his family and other residents have been dispossessed for 3 years now, and now only wishes to recover the original price of the property before the landslide took place.
Peter went on: “We feel the government’s decision is absolutely right. We bought our houses in good faith, insurance refused to pay, and we want to be compensated in full which I think is a fair request.”
The political decision to compensate the residents has been made and now it lies with the cabinet to announce the amounts to be distributed. To whom the amounts will be allocated and how much still remains to be seen. The Cyprus cabinet’s decision will also include a sum for temporary maintenance works until a study can be completed on the source of the problem and methods to stop it deteriorating further.
Unfortunately, the residents don’t know how much will be allocated to their individual compensation claims, although Mr Field stated he would like the value of their homes to be assessed independently.
Elina worries that there may not be a lot left for individual assessment, as a tender competition will be announced by June for the study on the land to commence. She thinks the government will pay homeowners figures which are not enough to buy or build a new home and instead ask them to claim compensation from the developers, architects and engineers who had given the go ahead hastily.
The houses in that area were constructed by small-scale contractors rather than developers; also, there are no large companies in Cyprus with millions in credit to shell out to the owners owed compensation.
An unidentified amount to be given to the affected families cannot take place until the source of the landslide has been identified to stop the damage diffusing. immediate compensation until the study is completed, she stated.
Based on the study findings another decision will be taken on how to solve the structural land problem in its entirety. Currently, the main apprehensions are that the leftover funding supplied won’t be sufficient to cover the cost of another property; meaning they will have to rent until retirement, never paying off the cost of a new home again. There are currently 5 families on the island facing this issue.
In the meantime, this does not stop owners from taking their own actions to claim money from insurance companies or from elsewhere. However, insurance companies have systematically claimed that they are unable to accept liability, which proprietors say leaves the government as the insurer of last resort.
The Fields purchased their luxurious four-bedroom villa in 1994; spending a considerable sum on the property before deciding to move permanently to Cyprus to retire in 2004. Their house was originally constructed in 1988 and had no problems before 2011.