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Limassol Port: Truckers agree to 30-day adjustment period

Lorry drivers on Saturday agreed to give a 30-day adjustment period to the Limassol port’s container terminal operators, Eurogate, to introduce measures to help resolve problems while a committee has been set up to monitor daily progress, deputy government Spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said. Agreeing to the proposals, lorry drivers said they would get back to work on Sunday. Following the meetings President Nicos Anastasiades held in Limassol over the problems at the port, which led to the refusal for days of lorry drivers to pick up goods in protest over delays during loading and unloading, stakeholders expressed their satisfaction for the decisions taken.

Asked by members of the press whether a solution had been reached, the president said “I believe yes”. During the first meeting, Papadopoulos said, which was attended by Transport Minister Marios Demetriades, the permanent secretary of the transport ministry, board members of the Cyprus Ports Authority, the deputy port master, delegations of the port workers and customs clearers associations, and Eurogate, decisions were taken on a number of measures to address problems faced at the port. Lorry drivers and other professional groups have been complaining since the end of January, when Eurogate assumed the management of the port’s container terminal, for prolonged delays in the delivery and pick up of containers.

Eurogate had said that it had introduced a new software programme to which staff was not used to, and that they had flown in additional staff to help pick up the pace. At the president’s second meeting, this time with the lorry drivers, Papadopoulos said, “it was agreed that a 30-day period would be given for the company to take the necessary actions for the lorry drivers’ problems to be resolved”. “It was also decided to lift bureaucratic procedures that justifiably troubled truckers and made their work difficult,” he said.

A special committee has been set up, he said, “which will monitor closely the implementation of these decisions and will update daily, the president>>. Among the measures agreed, was for the ports authority to provide Eurogate with more space, for the old rates to be reintroduced for the next 15 days, until procedures get back to normal and for shipping agents to not impose penalty fees for delays. The drivers, whose Tuesday strike prompted Eurogate to announce an increase in staff and equipment employed at the port and the introduction of a night shift in order to cope with the delays, returned to work on Wednesday morning to again withdraw from the port angry after a software failure caused further delays.

The president had made another effort on Friday to convince the protesters to resume the delivery of containers whose number is increasing by the day, with no success. Following the first meeting, stakeholders expressed their satisfaction over decisions taken and Eurogate’s willingness to cooperate, but warned that unless lorry drivers get back to work, the economy would suffer. “If they [truckers] cooperate on the adjustments, which we all dutifully made to facilitate operations at the Limassol port, normalcy will return within next week,” said the general director of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB), Michalis Antoniou.

Otherwise, he said, the consequences will be irreversible for the economy and for all of us. “We will mourn over rubble,” he said. Secretary-general of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve), Marios Tsiakkis, said that unless the situation was reversed, and truckers resume operations promptly, the economy is in danger of being destroyed. The head of the customs clearers association, Pantelis Christodoulou said the president requested the decisions taken be applied as of Monday.

The association of producers and exporters of citrus fruit and agricultural produce, said that they were in dire straits as fruit waiting to be exported is being ruined.

On Friday Eurogate said that more than 2,000 containers had been accumulated over the past few days and their number was increasing daily.

Imports and exports businesses are furious over the situation, and warned of shortages of goods should this continues.
Source: Cyprus Mail

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