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Piraeus And Thessaloniki Get Lion’s Share Of Port Infrastructure Funds

Greece’s major seaports are scheduled to undergo a series of large construction projects designed to upgrade their infrastructure and increase their cargo handling capacity.

The country’ two biggest and busiest seaports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, are destined for the lion’s share of funds.

Most all projects will be completed by January 1, 2004, when the full deregulation of the coastal shipping sector is planned, which follows the partial freeing of fare structures on November 1 of this year.

To ready the ports for the 2004 move, the Merchant Marine Ministry intends to convert the legal status of the ports from state-run utilities to limited companies (societes anonymes). This would allow the entry of other shareholders. Similar changes are expected for the ports of Alexandroupolis, Kavala, Volos, Rafina, Lavrion, Elefsina, Patras, Igoumenitsa, Corfu and Heraklion.

The major project in Piraeus, still at the planning stage, consists of new facilities for cruise ships in Palataki, including three new docking bays that will increase capacity by 30 percent.

Other projects include an upgrade of the port’s water supply and sewer system, the aesthetic upgrading of green spaces and buildings, a five-star hotel at Palataki, a 700-car underground parking lot near the port’s exhibition facility (OLP) and deepening the harbor.

For the Thessaloniki port, which is expected to play a major role in Balkan trade in coming years, the plans include a four-acre extension of Sixth Pier container storage facilities. As well, an extension to the pier itself is planned so as to accommodate containers of all sizes, an overhaul of the passenger terminal for cruise ships, and connections to road and rail networks.

The port of Patras will receive about 85 million euros for projects, those of Igoumenitsa and Kavala, 45 million each, and Rafina, 30 million euros.

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