A rusting passenger vessel called Nedim Kaptan docked at the harbour of Kato Pyrgos since last November when it was towed by Cypriot authorities with some 170 mostly Syrian refugees onboard, has become a bit of an attraction, but not a very pleasant one for the local community.
It is one of four vessels used for carrying refugees and migrants over the past 18 months that have remained docked in the harbour.
The four vessels are stuck in the harbour as evidence until the prosecutions of the suspected people smugglers who brought the refugees over are finished. After that, the government will auction them off.
But the bad shape of the largest of them, ‘Nedim Kaptan’, and its long stay at the harbour had angered the Kato Pyrgos community council which posted a sign explaining why the vessel was there and apologising for the unsightly scene.
The boat, the sign said, carried migrants from Turkey and had been confiscated by the Republic of Cyprus on November 3, 2017.
“It has since been abandoned here and despite the actions of the community council, police and the justice ministry refuse to remove it because it is ‘evidence’,” the sign explained. It also apologised for its “ugliness”.
The sign was recently removed after authorities reassured the town that all vessels would soon be auctioned off.
“It was an ugly situation, but we’re confident that it’ll be over soon when the boats are auctioned off, maybe even in a matter of days,” Kato Pyrgos community leader Nicos Kleanthous told the Sunday Mail this week.
The boat Nedim Kaptan had arrived in Kato Pyrgos last November carrying 174 men, women and children – including a two-day-old infant – from Antalya, Turkey.
(Additional reporting Lizzy Ioannidou)