ECONOMY

Port of Piraeus blasted for poor container service

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has complained about problems and delays in the Piraeus port’s containers terminal, noting that promises made by port officials to expand the terminal’s capacity had not been kept. In a letter to the Piraeus Port Authority’s (OLP) managing director, Sotiris Theofanis, the IMO pointed out that there is no equitable treatment of maritime firms because the «first-come, first-served» system is not applied, despite the fact that OLP’s charter says it is the one to be followed by port officials. The IMO warned that, in case of non-compliance, they would lodge complaints with Greece’s Competition Commission and other national and European Union authorities, demanding fair treatment for all users of the port. The IMO also said that when, after an inordinate delay, ships manage to dock at the port, they face an impossible situation «which in no case can apply to a modern, organized container terminal of a major port.» There are too few loading and off-loading machines and there is not enough space to store containers. The level and nature of services is one «not seen for decades in modern ports,» the letter says. To ameliorate the situation, the IMO proposed OLP carried out seven steps: – The immediate application of the first-come, first-served system of servicing ships, with no exception. – Immediate steps to hire the necessary personnel so that all transporter bridges are fully staffed irrespective of season, personnel leaves, etc. – The repair and proper maintenance of all machinery lying idle at repair shops. – The port should obtain trucks fast, even through leasing, in order to serve all customers. Until then, it should pay privately owned trucks to ensure a fast service for all clients. – The immediate expansion of storage facilities. If necessary, other spaces not fully used at present, for whatever reason, should be used for container storage. – Immediate steps to renew the machinery and equipment used in the container terminal. – Providing priority to servicing local trade. IMO is not opposed to OLP’s policy of concluding agreements on transit cargo but it should be given lower priority. The government has just concluded OLP’s flotation on the Athens Stock Exchange, offering 25 percent of its shares to investors.