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A cruise port in Piraeus in Samaras’ plans

10 January 2013 / 14:01:40  GRReporter
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The port of Piraeus is to make a special cruise marina on the basis of public-private partnership, which will be one of the main tasks of the government in 2013 as part of its programme to stimulate economic growth. So far, cruise ships have passed through Piraeus en route to other ports whereas under the new project, Athens' port will become a point of arrival and departure for some of the largest cruise ships, bringing significant benefits to the businesses in the region and its development.

"There is huge interest in the construction works of the project but it is even more important to note that there is very strong interest from companies dealing with cruises on a global scale," said the Deputy Minister of Economy and Development Notis Mitarakis. He stresses that the development of the cruise port of Piraeus will bring between eight and ten times more money for the region than it is bringing at present. The region of the coastal city, which will be selected for the project, will be determined in the first six months of this year. A competition to select the contractors will follow next and then the project will start.

The ambitious programme of Antonis Samaras’ government does not stop here. It will resume the construction works of four highways of key importance to the national transport network in April and will offer the Kateliou airport of Crete for concession by the end of the year.

Public transport in Athens is also included in the programme to stimulate economic growth. The third underground line, "Doukissis Plakentias-Egalio," will be expanded with six new underground stations by June this year. The first two stations (Peristeri and Atoupoli) will start operating in April and by the beginning of the summer, the underground will reach the azure shores of the Vouliagmenis neighbourhood, where the citizens and visitors of Athens enjoy the waves of the Mediterranean Sea.

In June, there will be a competition for the company, which will introduce the electronic ticketing familiar from European cities like London and Berlin and the new systems will be introduced in stages from 2014 onwards.

The State Property Management Fund, which is in charge of the privatisation programme in Greece, includes the two companies - TRAINOSE and ROSCO - that manage the public railways. The procedure offering them to strategic investors is expected to begin in the spring, after the European Commission approves the privatisation project. In January, the government wants to pass a law on the liberalisation of the air transport market and to immediately start the development of island airports. Such laws, seeking to remove the legal obstacles to the privatisation of companies that render essential public services, will be adopted for the urban waters management and the national post.

The entire privatisation programme is expected to trigger a new tsunami of strikes and protests in Athens. The government is determined not to change its plans despite the threats of key trade unions, which, as it has turned out, do not always act in favour of the common good.

One of the most dramatic cases of clashes between the government and the trade unions in the field of privatisation was the sale of part of the port of Piraeus. For a year and a half and after a series of skirmishes between the trade unionists and riot police forces, the project was passed and COSCO became the owner of one of the three cargo piers of the port. After two years of operation, the data indicate that the volume of containers operated by the private port has doubled and the trend for 2013 is for it to increase.

The data for 2012 show that over two million containers passed through the port managed by the Chinese and then, they were directed to Europe, the markets of the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean countries. The rent the state received from the concession with COSCO was 28 million euro for a year. The company’s plans for 2013 are to increase the volume of imported containers to 2.5 by the end of the year.

Tags: EconomyCruisesEconomic growthGreece
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