By Kyriacos Kiliaris
Famagusta residents were left fuming after access to the walled city of Famagusta via the historic “Land Gate” was cut off for a couple of hours, when a lorry became jammed while trying to pass through it.
A 23-year-old lorry driver from Nicosia failed to calculate correctly the width and height of his truck and got it jammed, damaging the historic gate.
As a result, both the Gate and the lorry saw serious damage, with the harm caused to the vehicle being estimated at €2,000 and the destruction to the wall not estimated as yet.
Locals told reporters that this was not a rare incident, as many trucks while attempting to pass through the Gate take a piece of the wall with them.
Speaking to Turkish Cypriot media on behalf of the Famagusta Initiative, Dr. Okan Dagli said the Land Gate is part of the historic Venetian wall of the city and provides access to the walled city, but has suffered serious damage.
He also said that the Land Gate is not the only portal to the walled city to be impacted by trucks passing through.
Dagli told reporters that the Canbulat Gate also known as the “Shipyard Gate”, which connects the walled city with the docks, has also seen its share of hits from trucks and buses.
He said that this historic gate was used to bring in small ships and boats to the walled city for repair – hence its name, the Shipyard Gate. He added that the damage caused to this Gate is of great magnitude and unfortunately it is not currently included in the restoration of Canbulat Road being carried out by the UNDP and the bicommunal Cultural Heritage Technical Committee.
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The Famagusta Initiative representative believed the problem had occurred over time, given the road works that had taken place. In particular, he explained that past asphalting efforts had raised the height of the road, making the Gate shorter.
He also noted that “the current height of the Gate is not displayed at the top of the passage, and, as a result, many buses and trucks either get stuck or seriously damage the passage”.
Dr. Dagli said there are three significantly taller gates between the Othello Castle and the Sea Gate, which were opened during the British colonial years and were used to provide access to big vehicles entering the town from the port.
Unfortunately, these gates are currently closed.
He added that, in the past, at least one of these portals used to be open and provided easy access to both people arriving at the port and heavy vehicles carrying cargo to the town.
Dagli said that because the other gates are situated in places where a significant number of the tourist activities of the town take place, their opening would liven up the local markets.
“These gates should be opened at once so that the Canbulat Gate is not used by heavy vehicles anymore and the destruction of a historic monument is stopped,” he said.