Tourism body joins cabbies row

As striking taxi drivers entered a fourth day of protest action on Thursday, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) called on Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes to intervene and put a stop to the blocking of ports, airports and roads that have inconvenienced thousands of tourists.

SETE called on Tentes to dispatch local prosecutors and police to break up the protests, noting that ?these activities have dealt a severe blow to tourism, the only sector of the economy fueling hopes for an exit from the crisis.?

The association added that although cabbies have been blatantly violating the highway code by blocking road junctions, there have been no reports of arrests by authorities.

In view of this, SETE concluded, local prosecutors and police should be charged with violation of duty.

The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels wrote yesterday to Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis, asking him to convene a committee meeting with all related parties aimed at mitigating the impact of the taxi drivers? action on the tourism sector.

According to sources, Ragousis was annoyed by the appeal of 21 PASOK MPs for planned reforms affecting cabbies to be discussed by Parliament?s transport committee. The committee is to convene on Tuesday.

On Thursday taxi drivers blocked several major road junctions across the country and the airports on the southern Aegean island of Crete and the Ionian island of Corfu, inconveniencing hundreds of holidaymakers. Protesters also blocked the Cretan port of Iraklio, forcing a cruise ship to dock at nearby Hania. Cabbies also occupied tollgates at Afidnes, Elefsina and Corinth, allowing motorists to pass through without paying.

All Greek ports could be closed if seamen go ahead with a threatened strike. Unionists, who met with Alternate Merchant Marine Minister Haris Paboukis yesterday, are to decide on their course of action today.