Greek commercial ports seen in urgent need of investment

The development of Greek ports, particularly the harbor of Piraeus, into modern container transit hubs in the eastern Mediterranean has been embraced by government policy and private operators in ports and shipping. «The modern state desires the participation of all stakeholders, public and private, in its efforts to modernize the ports. We need private operators to participate in investment,» General Secretary for Ports Giorgos Vlachos told a press briefing yesterday. The event was held in view of a conference, «Hellenic Ports 2007,» which is planned by the Institute of Port Development (IPD) at the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) on March 2. Shipping circles and representatives of large container-ship operators have projected that within the next 10 years the transported volume of goods will increase fourfold. This, they argued, makes new investment imperative. The president of the Maritime Chamber of Greece, Giorgos Gratsos, said the development of ports would mainly benefit consumers, but added that if it fails «we shall lose as citizens individually and as a country collectively.» President of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Giorgos Kassimatis made two proposals. First, the implementation of investment and the assignment of services to among three and five private operators, and second, that OLP carry out a share capital increase, with 20 percent of shares going to users who would also undertake the management. Stevedores recently imposed a two-month long overtime ban, protesting talks with private investors. IPD’s Nikos Samaras said the March 2 event is the first of a series that will continue in London and New York.