By Stelios Orphanides
The agreement between the government and the investors who will take over the operation of the Limassol port will be signed on Monday morning, Transport minister Marios Demetriades said on Thursday.
The signing of the agreement, which will transfer responsibility for the container cargo operations to a consortium led by Germany’s EuroGate, and the general cargo and maritime operations to two consortiums led by Dubai Ports, will signal the beginning of a transition period of up to nine months before competition winners fully take over the management of Limassol port, Demetriades said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
Workers at the port will have to decide whether they will take the government’s early retirement scheme within two months after the transition period begins, the minister said.
“After it is decided which workers will be transferred to the public service, the scheme will reopen to allow some of them to reconsider,” he said adding that certain positions have already been found for them.
The privatisation of the Limassol port’s operations, part of the cash-for-reforms deal between Cyprus and its international creditors, had to overcome strong resistance by workers at the port who repeatedly staged strikes, angering businesspeople. The government offered licenced port workers and their employees compensation exceeding €28m and promised further benefits to employees of the Cyprus Ports Authority who would opt for early retirement.
The transport minister said that French energy giant Total, which has the exploration and exploitation licence of block 11 in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, has launched a competition for services related to its planned drilling.
The U.S-based Noble Energy, and Italy’s ENI, are in talks with the government, Demetriades said. He added that he was “closely monitoring the matter to ensure their consent” over the infrastructure they need after the Larnaca’s municipal board banned hydrocarbon companies from using the town’s port.