NEWS

Report calls for bigger ports

Many ports in the Aegean and Ionian seas are potentially dangerous for passenger ships as they are too narrow for dockings, according to a report made public yesterday by the Masters and Mates Union of the Greek Merchant Marine. In the report, experts note that many port basins are too narrow to adequately accommodate modern passenger ships. In addition, the piers of many island ports cannot accommodate more than one passenger ship at a time and even smaller vessels, such as speedboats, often encounter problems when trying to dock. «We, as ship captains, believe that there have been many improvements carried out at ports but at a very slow pace,» the union’s president, Giorgos Vlachos, said, adding however that «there is room for a lot more improvement as long as the existing bureaucracy is curbed.» Vlachos noted that plans for the modernization of ports in the Aegean «should take into account the ship captains who use the ports every day.» The report provides a detailed analysis of the shortcomings of each port. The central port of Patras, Greece’s main gateway to Western Europe, is described as «too small for the vessels that depend upon it.» Experts note that an upgrade in infrastructure is vital to ensure security. As for the popular holiday destination of Santorini, the union proposes the «relocation of the island’s main port» to ensure that cruise liners and passenger ships have ample space to dock, especially during the busy summer months. The main ports of Rafina, Rhodes, Kos and Igoumenitsa, in northwestern Greece, are among the others mentioned in the report as lacking adequate infrastructure. Last summer, union officials blamed inadequate infrastructure at ports for a spate of ferry collisions in the Aegean. They said the inadequate coordination of crew members and human error were less of a problem than poor infrastructure.