Galatex is like a ZOO says Police Officer

An article that landed on my lap this morning, from a popular English-language newspaper about the worsening condition of the “Tourist Area” in Limassol.

With quotes such as :

“Nothing can be done about Galatex. Have you been to see what it’s like? Go there one night and see for yourself. It’s like a zoo… Even if you were to send down all Limassol’s police officers there’s nothing they could do,”

by senior police officers and many complaints from residents.

The full article is posted here for archival purposes, although the Sunday Mail holds the copyright.

Teen hangout beyond salvation
By Alexia Saoulli
LIMASSOL’S popular teenage hangout, Galatex, is beyond salvation, a senior police officer has said.“Nothing can be done about Galatex. Have you been to see what it’s like? Go there one night and see for yourself. It’s like a zoo… Even if you were to send down all Limassol’s police officers there’s nothing they could do,” the officer, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Sunday Mail.

Pressed why the police did not at least try to do more to rectify the situation, his response was succinct: “No one takes on the Limassolians.”

The multimillion pound Galatex Beach Centre was initially designed as a unique tourist complex made up of apartment blocks, shops, restaurants, cafeterias and bars.

However, since its completion in the early 90s, it has rapidly become a teenage hotspot along the Yermasoyia strip, encouraging underage drinking and yob behaviour.

Instead of the gem it could have been, ‘for sale’ signs now dot the apartment blocks above empty, graffiti-ridden shops that nobody wants to buy.

George Galatariotis, chairman of the company Galatex Tourist Enterprises Ltd, which built and operates the centre, said: “Just look around you. It’s turning into a ghetto and soon the police will even be afraid to enter. Can you imagine living here? It’s not just the noise. It’s the drugs and the type of people that gather here. I don’t blame people for being afraid to enter their apartment blocks at night.”

Galatariotis was referring to residents’ appeals for changes to be made regarding the situation at the complex, claiming they were afraid for their safety and that of their children.

“Who would want to buy here now?” a woman who lives in the area confirmed.
“All sorts of illegal things go on at night. The music is deafening and we can’t sleep, then there’s the drinking and drug taking, the damaging of property. It’s totally out of control and someone should do something about it.”

During a visit to the centre, its manager told the Sunday Mail he often found people passed out in the underground parking, while pointing out three used syringes that the clean-up crew had missed. Other people often used the complex as a spot to set up camp and sleep in the open, he added.

The manager also pointed out empty shop windows that had been kicked in by hooligans at the weekend. He said this was not the first time it had happened and that as soon as they were replaced they would be smashed the following week.

Galatariotis said that although Justice Minister Sophoclis Sophocleous had done the best he could to clamp down on the problem, more was needed.

“Why does the Yermasoyia mayor not shut down the businesses that have illegally extended their bars and closed in common areas that do not belong to their property, but instead reissues their operating licences?” Galatariotis asked.

He said it was within the municipality’s legal rights to order the clubs that had taken over the area to conform to town planning department regulations, which would stop the area from being the seedy breeding ground for thugs, drunks and drug addicts it has become.
“Instead, the mayor tells them illegally to close in their bars with mortar and bricks to keep the noise levels down. They are not permitted to extend their bars like that and to make the changes that they have and here the mayor is giving them the go-ahead,” he said.

Galatariotis said his company had repeatedly written to the mayor and police informing them of the situation, including the illegal construction works and noise pollution, but that every time their complaints had fallen on deaf ears.

In fact in May last year, police responded to the company’s legal advisers in writing, claiming that the bar owners had conformed to the law and that they were inspected every night confirming nothing illegal was going on. The letter also made claims that large speakers were no longer being used by the bars, a direct contrast to the reality of the situation.

Limassol district office’s response was equally misleading. It claimed that owners of businesses at Galatex were repeatedly inspected and that any one found breaking the law was taken to court.

“[But] no one has ever been to court,” said Galatariotis.

He added: “The situation here and the problems it creates give the area a really bad name.

This is supposed to be a tourist area that attracts visitors, but instead it gives the municipality and all of Cyprus a bad image.”

Yermasoyia mayor Andreas Gavrilides could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2007

Source : Cyprus Mail Internet Edition

Any one agree? Disagree?