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Boat owners protest fees rise at Larnaca marina (updated)

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Boat owners during a previous protest

Boat owners at Larnaca marina on Sunday held a demonstration against plans by private developer Kition Ocean Marina to raise docking fees for the second time in a year.

Holding signs that said ‘Cyprus the island with no maritime vision’ and ‘The ministry has sold us out and trapped us’, around 100 people gathered at the entrance of the marina, blocking entry to it.

“Today is a mild protest against the continuous increases that the investor is trying to impose and for the fact that essentially the state ignores us,” President of the Docked Boat Owners Association Chris Stekas said.

He warned that the demonstration was just the start of measures that would be built up if necessary.

“We must look at the issue that the boat owners complaining about, since a number of problems arose through the implementation phase of the project,” chairman of the House commerce committee Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis, who was at the protest, said.

Price rises of 15 to 25 per cent are expected to be enforced as of April 1.

However, director of Larnaca marina Anastasis Philippou said it is the cheapest marina in Cyprus and perhaps in Europe, since prices are 400 per cent lower than elsewhere on the island.

Boat owners say that the increased fees are unjustified as the services they are offered have not been improved.

“The investor from the first day he took over the management of the marina imposed a 15 per cent increase in boat berthing fees and announced an up to 25 per cent increase from April 1,” Stekas added.

But he said claiming it is the cheapest on the island does not give the whole picture as there is a difference between Larnaca and Limassol marinas. He said those using Larnaca were middle class, and their boats were not worth millions but only thousands of euro.

But he said they have been left feeling “there is no other place to go”.

He said they will give the ministry of transport about two weeks to act before they step up measures.

Philippou said €1.2 million had been invested in the marina in the last year and spends money daily on a facility that is more than 40 years old.

The demonstrators also blocked the road that runs alongside the marina, Athens Avenue, causing chaos on it.

Around 300 boats are docked at Larnaca marina, most of them belonging to people in Cyprus.

Late last year Kition said redevelopment work on the dock would be completed by the summer.

Work on upgrading the Larnaca marina and surrounding area, billed as the largest infrastructure development on the island, are due to begin on April 1.

According to the ministry, the project is expected to create some 4,000 jobs, contributing around €120 million to GDP per year.

“The chief aim of the development is to create a modern and functional commercial and passenger port with a new passenger terminal, new administration buildings and new piers,” it said last year.

It involves creating a minimum of 600 berths for recreational craft, a yacht club, residential and commercial units, office space, hotels, seaside villas and the first private island in Cyprus.

The initial development phase will see the construction of roads, cycling lanes, pedestrian walkways, parking space and green areas.

The entire development will be divided into four phases across 12 years.

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