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Freight drivers back to work in Limassol port, after President’s mediation

Freight drivers, who had abstained from work citing huge delays and problems under the new management of Limassol port services, returned to work on Sunday morning, after a series of mediating meetings chaired by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, on Saturday, which led to an agreement on measures to normalise the port`s operation.

Cyprus Confederation of Professional Craftsmen and Shopkeepers (POVEK) official Kyriakos Moustakas, who was at the port first thing in the morning, told CNA that lorry drivers have returned to work. So far no particular problems have arisen, he said, expressing the hope that things will run smoothly. In statements today Eurogate Manager Giorgos Pouros said that the port terminal started receiving freight drivers from 0600 hours local time (0400 GMT), adding that “we are using the number of machinery we had promised and it seems that things are running smoothly.”

About 550 containers have been unloaded by lunchtime and pointed out that if things continue the same way then over 1,000 containers will be serviced today. He noted that the containers terminal will remain open until 1800 hours (1600 GMT). President Anastasiades, who had meetings on Saturday with all the different parties involved yesterday, was asked as he was leaving whether a solution had been found to the satisfaction of everyone involved and replied “I hope and believe that yes.”

Deputy Government Spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos, who was accompanying the President, said that specific steps were decided to overcome the problems at hand and in order for port operations to run smoothly. Referring to a meeting with the operating company, he said that it was agreed that a period of 30 days would be granted in order for the company to be able to take specific steps to resolve particular problems faced by the lorry drivers. “It was also decided to lift bureaucratic procedures which justifiably were hindering lorry drivers and made their work more difficult, so that during this time frame a full normalisation of operations,” he added.

Papadopoulos announced that a special committee has been set up to monitor daily the implementation of the decisions taken and without fail brief President Anastasiades. In a press release yesterday Eurogate Container Terminal Limassol Ltd said that it has accepted all proposals put forward by the President, expressing the hope that logic will prevail and everyone will go back to work immediately. It called on everyone involved to demonstrate the necessary maturity in order to jointly overcome any difficulties since it is expected that once the port operations start problems will arise due to the large number of containers at the terminal as a result of the lorry drivers` strike.

It further assured that its main goal is for port operations to return to normal as soon as possible.

In a written statement Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) Director General Michael Antoniou welcomed the positive outcome and expressed the view that all involved should “have patience, be composed, help each other and cooperate” in order to transport some 2,500 containers inland.

Limassol port officially started operating under its new private administration at midnight on Saturday, 28 January.

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