Island ports need upgrading

Several Aegean ports are in urgent need of upgrading because they pose a safety risk to the increasing number of ferry passengers this summer, the Panhellenic Union of Merchant Shipping Captains (PEPEN) told a seminar in Piraeus yesterday. The main harbor at the Cycladic island of Folegandros is among the most dangerous, with ports at Naxos, Paros, Syros and Rafina also in serious need of repairs, according to PEPEN’s annual report, which was made public yesterday. «Despite the works that have already been carried out at certain ports, their overall condition has been described as ‘bad,’» said PEPEN president Vangelis Kouzilos. «Modern ferries need the appropriate port infrastructure, otherwise they cannot guarantee passenger safety.» The report proposed detailed modifications to ports at several islands. These changes mainly focused on boosting safety and convenience for vessels. It suggested deepening the port basins at Naxos, Syros, Tinos, Myconos, Samos and Rhodes as well as the Cretan port of Iraklion. The report also called for better lighting on the piers at most of these ports and the creation of additional mooring spaces and ship buffers. Other tips included building infrastructure to curb strong winds at the old port of Myconos and removing old ammunition abandoned near the entrance to the port of Iraklion. The Merchant Marine Ministry has already drafted a plan for upgrading the country’s ports by 2015, the ministry’s general secretary for ports and port policy, Giorgos Vlachos, told those attending PEPEN’s seminar yesterday. The nine-year program will be funded by a 3-billion-euro loan from the European Investment Bank, Vlachos said. The ministry’s chief wants to attract private investment to back infrastructure works for the country’s ports and to encourage the private sector’s involvement in the organization and operation of ports.

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