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Port woes ease but drivers worried about exceeding driving limits

Lorry drivers on Thursday urged the government to take into consideration the huge delays in  delivery and pick up of containers at Limassol port when checking drivers for exceeding driving limits.

Despite reassurances by Cyprus’ EuroGate unit, which on Sunday assumed responsibility for the container operations at the port, that they were gradually picking up the pace as regards the number of containers they release, lorry drivers maintain that there are still very long delays.

Povek union’s representative Kyriacos Moustakas said that on the fourth day of operations under the new state of affairs, lorries had formed very long lines outside the port on Thursday morning waiting to be serviced.

On Monday and Tuesday, lorry drivers were complaining that they had to spend a whole day until they were serviced. On Thursday they said that problem was somewhat lessened but that was because fewer showed up at the port after as per Povek’s advice to avoid further hardship. Drivers also put it down to the fact that there was no scheduled service of any cargo ship in the morning.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC radio, Moustakas said that lorry drivers will meet Friday night to discuss their next moves as the prolonged delays mean that they face being fined by the labour inspection department for exceeding the driving hours’ limit.

“Drivers wait for seven hours to deliver or pick up containers when the officials of the labour inspection department check their tachographs and see that they have exceeded their operation hours, they will have trouble with the law,” Moustakas said. The delays, he said, also mean loss of income for lorry drivers.

He added that they had already contacted the labour ministry to bring to their attention this issue. Povek, he said, was asking the ministry to take into consideration the delays at the port so that lorry drivers would not face run-ins with the law during checks of their log books.

“Drivers violate their driving hours but not due to any fault of their own. They want reassurances from the government that they will not face any consequences during this period of delays,” Moustakas said.

In case they receive no such reassurances, they will take measures, he said.

The head of the container operations at the Limassol port, Giorgos Pouros, said that the company itself was not satisfied by the current situation and that it was taking measures to alleviate the problem. The aim, he said, is for the terminal’s performance to exceed that of the previous port administration. At the moment, he said, there is a gradual improvement as regards performance.

From the 230 containers delivered on the first day, Pouros said, the number reached 500 by Wednesday. He said that the average daily was so far 600 containers.

“The volume of containers that must be delivered, are being delivered, but we must improve the time for faster service of the lorry drivers,” Pouros said.

He added that these problems are experienced due to that the transition was made within a day. “A terminal with 12,000 containers that was moved in within a day last Sunday,” Pouros said. In addition, he said, a new software programme is being used, with which operators are not yet fully accustomed.

Additional staff are being flown in, he said, to support the local workers.  “We expect to reach within a week the goal of 600 containers [daily],” Pouros said.

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