Ports can­not cope with traf­fic

Growth in pas­sen­ger num­bers, spike in ferry firm ri­valry and lack of in­vest­ments stretch ca­pac­ity to lim­its

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ILIAS BELLOS

This sum­mer is turn­ing out to be some­thing of a stress test for Greek is­land ports, as well as pas­sen­gers’ nerves, to say noth­ing of coastal ship­pers – big and small. The sum­mer sea­son is at its peak and ports such as those on Naxos and at Ra­fina (eastern At­tica) are push­ing ca­pac­ity fol­low­ing years of in­suf­fi­cient in­vest­ment in in­fras­truc­ture.

The sit­u­a­tion was ag­gra­vated by yes­ter­day’s in­con­clu­sive meet­ing be­tween coastal ship­pers and the com­pe­tent author­ity of the Ship­ping Min­istry.

The prob­lem is more acute this sum­mer with the in­crease in tourism and the ever grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion be­tween ferry com­pa­nies vy­ing for the big­gest pos­si­ble mar­ket share. The re­sult is ma­jor de­lays at ports when two or three big ships ar­rive to dock at al­most the same time. The ports’ in­abil­ity to si­mul­ta­ne­ously cater to more than one ves­sel forces ships to wait off­shore for the other to dock first.

“Al­most 90 per­cent of our ports are prob­lem­atic and the nec­es­sary work would re­quire plenty of time and money,” said Michalis Sakel­lis, head of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Pas­sen­ger Ship­ping Com­pa­nies (SEEN).

“Once again we stress the need for mea­sures. Our ports will be­come the main fac­tor ham­per­ing the serv- ice of our is­lands in the fu­ture,” he added. “In­suf­fi­cient port in­fras­truc­ture is ham­per­ing growth and af­fect­ing the cost of ser­vices. Al­ready the port of Ra­fina will be un­able to cater to de­mand for ferry ser­vices sched­uled for 2018, while sim­i­lar prob­lems are emerg­ing this year too.”

Ports such as Athin­ios on San­torini, or those of Paros and Karpathos, and dozens more sim­ply can­not cope. 1.1812

The ma­jor de­lays at ports and the qual­ity of ser­vices pro­vided have cost coastal ship­ping com­pa­nies: “Ferry en­ter­prises have not man­aged to make the most of the in­crease in tourism ar­rivals from abroad. Their rev­enues mostly rely on cargo traf­fic [i.e. lor­ries] as well as do­mes­tic tourism, which has been in con­stant de­cline over the last decade,” Gior­gos Xi­radakis, head of XRTC Busi­ness Con­sul­tants, told Kathimerini.

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