Ferry operators warn of ‘havoc’

Greece’s coastal shipping companies yesterday used strong language to condemn a new draft law concerning the operation of the port of Piraeus during the Athens Olympics and Paralympics. The companies said the bill on the «regulation of matters concerning the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other ordinances» was «unrealistic.» And they stressed that they should have been consulted by the government before the legislation was drafted. Referring to specific security measures, sources at the Greek Coastal Shipping Association told Kathimerini that if they are applied «they will cause havoc in maritime transportation.» The operators oppose certain aspects of Article 10, specifically the stipulation that: «If judged necessary, heavy commercial vehicles will not be transported on regular route voyages originating from or concluding at the central port of Piraeus, with operations concerning them to be transferred to nearby ports.» The shipping companies also oppose measures such as the possible transfer of one or more commercial routes to other ports, changes in the departure and/or arrival hours of ships, and limitations concerning the sale of tickets from venues in the port, among others. «If these measures are applied, there is the danger of total chaos in the coastal shipping market, as passengers will not know which port is to serve their chosen destinations.» They also said that ports in the greater Attica region, such as those of Rafina and Lavrion, cannot possibly serve 30 to 40 departures and arrivals on a daily basis, as does Piraeus, and that the islands will possibly face shortages of commercial goods, as the shipping companies will no longer be able to serve heavy vehicles. On another issue, the shipping companies reiterated their demand for the full application of EU Directive 3577/92, which allows companies in the sector to operate under free market rules, permitting them to decide on charges for all categories of tickets. As they noted, a free market, does not necessary lead to higher prices.