Larnaca fuming over university snub

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MPs and the Larnaca Municipality are fuming at the University of Cyprus decision to shelve plans to establish its Marine Science and Technology School there, citing multi-million inflated costs.

Larnaca’s dream of hosting the school was buried under concrete on Thursday, as the UCy confirmed it would not go ahead with the project due “to the unexpectedly high cost of building the facility, estimated at around €100 million, up from an initial €15 mln”.

UCy blames the whole issue on a wrong estimate put forward by their predecessors, describing it as an “academic estimate, rather than one based on real data”.

Larnaca Municipality said that it had not been made aware of conflicting estimates, as it was only informed by the current UCy rectorate the cost would be around €100 mln over the next decade, including buildings and equipment.

It wondered “who would assume responsibility” for conflicting estimates that were poles apart.

“If this is indeed the case, who is responsible for presenting false facts to the government, leaving the town of Larnaca exposed once more,” said the municipality written response.

The House Education Committee acting chairman, centrist DIKO MP Chrysanthos Savvides, called the estimated cost “unheard of”.

He said the government promise of a state university in Larnaca was based on an estimate made by previous university officials putting the cost at €15 mln.

“As we heard today, the government was aware from 2019 that the school was going to cost €100 mln,” Savvides said.

“People in Larnaca feel they are being mocked, as they were waiting for a project that seems impossible to implement.”

The Marine School was to be funded by the state, which had pulled out from the project at the end of 2020 when it was told the cost had gone up six-fold.

President Nicos Anastasiades told Larnaca mayor Andreas Vyras in September 2020 that his administration would be going back on their commitment to set up the school, as it was misinformed by the previous UCy rector who said it would cost only €10 mln over the next decade.

Anastasiades then said the current rector estimated the cost at €101 mln, an amount, for which the president said: “would be impossible to hand out, especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak”.