Accessing our islands

We all witnessed the hassles at the port of Piraeus this year, either firsthand or through the news media. In any case, all those who traveled by sea this summer – either to visit their favorite islands or to go home – vividly experienced the quality of our coastal shipping. We are a coastal country with the largest number of inhabited islands in Europe. Still, a year after the Athens Olympic Games, we cannot access our islands without being reduced to cursing each other in front of the loading platforms of faulty passenger ships. Extensive press reports offer various explanations for this year’s state of affairs: The fleet is aging, and very old vessels are withdrawn but not replaced. There is inefficient route planning, and price hikes of up to 30 percent on ferry fares mainly because of the state’s insistence on price control, which prevents market deregulation. All the reports were of particular interest to me as an islander. They also all seemed to contain a grain of truth… I agree that price control and administrative reforms cannot be a permanent solution. Perhaps we should go for full deregulation. It couldn’t get any worse, after all… The main thing to remember is that our islands are not just a source of tourism revenue but also home to thousands of Greeks…

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