I’ll leave behind the questionable political reasons for its existence on the island of Cyprus for the purpose of this week’s article, and start by saying what a delight it was to see the centre of Nicosia so full of life on the Monday of we just had.
I have always been of the sometimes unpopular opinion that Nicosia within the walls, or Surlariçi, is a wonderful place to spend time and live, and so to see it so full of life always feels like justification. However, with such business in this part of town, a pretty major problem is created. Surlariçi is split roughly in half between the island’s two administrations, and with the exception of Ledras/Lokmacı, Nicosia’s “High Street”, all roads and paths between the two sides within the walls are closed. This creates a bottleneck.
On a normal day this is an inconvenience; a slowly-moving queue and a brief encounter with an irritable policeman are both things that growing up in Milton Keynes prepared me for, but still can cause problems if I’m in a rush to get somewhere for example, or can cause elderly and unacclimatised tourists to faint when it’s hot in summer.
The second of those problems has been negated somewhat by the unsightly but functional wooden shelter bestowed unto us by the north’s Ministry for Tourism, which now covers about half of the buffer zone on Ledras/Lokmacı. However, a big shed does nothing for cutting waiting times and crowding, which is the more pressing issue.
You see, on a day when Surlariçi as a whole is busy, its one crossing point can not cope. I wouldn’t bet against waiting times being upwards of three quarters of an hour at peak today, given the hundreds of people in the queue.
towards the north end of ledras/LOKMACI you could barely move
Why is this a problem? First of all, it’s inconvenient. If someone has somewhere to be on the other side of the line: a meeting, a bus, a job et cetera, it’s highly problematic to have the potential of a long wait in the middle of the city. Secondly, the crowding can become almost unbearable for people and businesses in the area as large queues form up and down what is a narrow street anyway. Towards the north end of Ledras/Lokmacı you could barely move yesterday, which is at best an unpleasant feeling.
Of course, a solution to the Cyprus Problem would make this particular inconvenience disappear overnight, but until that day comes there are other and more easily attainable solutions to it. Simply put, there needs to be more crossing points in Surlariçi. Plans had been drawn up for two more but are yet to come to fruition, but I think it is obvious they are needed.
Even opening up just one other gate somewhere within the walled city would take a bit of the weight off Ledras/Lokmacı’s shoulders. However, the sheer foot traffic that the Surlariçi sees on busy days right now cannot be solved by one more checkpoint. There needs to be multiple pedestrian checkpoints, and automobile checkpoints nearby too, albeit preferably not in Surlariçi itself. It is a travesty that in 2019 there is only one open road linking the two halves of this island’s capital city, especially when that road is in the middle of nowhere.
there should be at the very least enough polıce there to deal wıth the people passıng through ıt
In addition to more checkpoints being open, they must be better staffed. If we have to have a police checkpoint in the middle of our capital city, there should be at the very least enough police there to deal effectively with the amount of people passing through it. The current system of one or two policemen sat in a box while hundreds of people queue up the street is obviously not working, and so should be improved. There are technological solutions, but the police departments sending enough police would suffice for now.
To sum up, Surlariçi needs more checkpoints, and more people working on those checkpoints, lest the city grind to a standstill whenever people are in it.