articles | 30 January 2015

Cyprus can become maritime transport hub

Cyprus wants to boost its role as a regional maritime transport hub, building bridges between Europe, as the government speeds up plans to privatise its two main commercial ports.

Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades said at a conference organised by the Cyprus Ports Authority and the Public Works Department that “the transport sector is the backbone of the European economy,” adding that the development and gradual completion of the trans-European transport network is a top priority.

He said, in his speech, that building infrastructures in ports alone is not enough to raise the efficiency of the sea highways that connect Europe with regional states, but that also obstacles to trade and shipping should also be removed.

Demetriades added that Cyprus wants to see practical implementation of the highways of the sea, to enable the countries of North Africa and the Middle East to have a more direct and efficient access to the European Single Market.

This was also discussed during the visit to Cyprus of Egypt’s Transport Minister, Hany Dahy, with the agenda of the talks also including the prospects of a ferry link between Cyprus and Egypt, boosting cooperation in the field of shipping and any interest Cypriot contracting companies may have in transport projects in Egypt.

Dahy was also expected to visit the port of Limassol and the Cyprus Ports Authority.

Meanwhile, the CPA is expected to sign an agreement by the end of the year with an investor for the commercial use of Limassol port.

The Authority’s Deputy Director General Anthi Cleridou briefed a delegation of technocrats from the Troika of international lenders on the progress achieved so far for the privatisation of the commercial activities of the port of Limassol.

Also present at the meeting was a representative of Rothschild Group, which is conducting a survey on the issue.

“Probably by the end of 2015, an agreement will be reached with the investor for the Limassol port”, Cleridou said.

Although the government has not yet decided whether to include the ports in its four-year roadmap for privatisation of state services, with the aim of raising €1.4 billion by 2018, the primary interest is to outsource some of the dock-side services and other administration to private investors and benefit from an annual rental fee.

However, progress at Larnaca port is very slow as the chosen investor, Zenon Consortium, has so far failed to raise the necessary funds that will transform the dilapidated docks and nearby marina into a premium-leisure marina andresort, while expanding the port facilities to accommodate the growing needs of the oil and gas exploration sector that is using the dockside facilities.

Larnaca port workers staged a 3-hour strike on Wednesday morning saying that the government has given Zenon too many extensions and that if the funds are not found, the Larnaca port and marina should be returned to the CPA.

Source: Financial Mirror

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