The fiasco at the Limassol port looks set to continue with determined truckers on Friday refusing to budge from their protest demands and Communications Minister Marios Demetriades once again being forced to head there for talks.
Truckers voiced their frustration over delays caused by a series of teething problems at the port earlier by earlier this week blocking the entrances to the Limassol port.
Long delays and operational glitches that have plagued Limassol port since it was taken over by private management companies EuroGate International and DP World in late January. Opposition parties have called for Demetriades’ resignation.
Demetriades headed down to the port on Friday once again for talks with the management companies to try and find a solution.
Eurogate’s Limassol port manager Giorgos Pouros said on Fridaythat “arrangements had been made for highly perishable goods to be transported” in spite of the on-going work stoppage.
Truckers’ union boss George Charalambous resigned on Thursday after a deal to compensate truckers at €50 for each additional hour of delay after two hours had passed was rejected by some of the truck operators.
The Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation (OEB) soon after issued a statement calling on the truckers to get back to work.
“Those who intentionally delay or postpone port activity are shooting themselves in the foot,” OEB said.
Speaking to state radio on Friday, small business association POVEK Central Organisational Secretary Kyriacos Moustakkas, who had attended the start of Demetriades’ meeting with Eurogate, said the truckers appeared determined to stay away until 6am on Monday.
“Unfortunately, the company has not convinced the transporters it is ready to take action and so they have decided to go ahead with their plans to exercise pressure on the company and stay away from work,” Moustakkas said.
He indicated that, after returning the work, the truckers would give Eurogate until Friday before determining if they would take more action.
Moustakkas said the truckers remained concerned about port facilities, whether the operating company was making best use of the available space, and about what they believe is unnecessary bureaucracy.
“There are some drivers that can barely write their own name but who are expected to fill out six forms before even being allowed into the port when the operators could retrieve the information electronically at the touch of a button,” he said.
Moustakkas also confirmed that President Nicos Anatsasides had contacted the truckers asking them to do everything in their power to get things moving at the port and prevent more loss to the country’s economy.
Limassol port operators have, meanwhile, also been up in arms about tariff increases, with one company calculating that its tariffs will rise by as much as 550%.