Friday, October 6, 2000

Greek Government promises ferry shake-up

With continuing public outrage over the loss of the Express Samina last week, the Greek Government has announced plans to scrap as many as 100 aging ferries by phasing in a 30 year age limit by 2006.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also said that the date by which other European companies would be allowed to compete in the domestic Greek ferry market would be brought forward to 2002. The date was oiriginally set at 2004

"The government has a steady target of improving commercial shipping policy- people's safety, services and the creation of a modern coastal shipping industry," Mr Reppas told reporters.

"In November the government will submit a bill to liberalize sea transport. We aim the liberalization to begin in 2002," he said.

The announcement came within days of the Greek Government banning 65 ships from sailing until they meet safety standards. They were given 20 days to meet European Community safety standards

Subsequent to the Express Samina tragedy, early last Friday, the ferry Express Artemis ran aground near the port of Naxos with 1,081 passengers on board. Then, last Saturday night, another Greek vessel, the Zeus III - carrying more than 30 American tourists - ran aground and sank off Naxos last Saturday night, killing one elderly American.


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