ECONOMY

Anchored ships create safety headache

The growing number of commercial ships anchored in an area at sea outside Piraeus port is turning into a safety concern for authorities in what could also be a sign of the economic downturn hitting the sector. The area near the port of Piraeus is crossed by tens of ships each day, raising safety concerns about the anchored vessels, which also act as an obstacle to vessels loading and unloading goods from the country’s largest port. Port regulations state that up to 50 commercial vessels can be left there for 20 days, in order to load or unload, and another 20 days before embarking on their next journey. «However, due to some ships having been anchored there for longer periods of time – and this is possibly connected to the economic downturn – we are examining issuing a new directive,» said Piraeus port authorities. Industry sources point out that the global economic slowdown has started to take its toll on shipping companies, particularly in relation to orders of new vessels placed at foreign shipyards. Greek shipowners have embarked on a total investment program of 90 billion euros in recent years, reducing the average age of their vessels and upping their fleet capacity. According to estimates made public earlier this year, the sector’s contribution to the Greek economy’s growth rate is expected to be 0.2 percentage points annually over the next three years.