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Transport ministry aims to resolve Larnaca marina dispute

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Boat owners during a previous protest

Meetings with both boat owners and representatives of private developer Kition Ocean Holdings will be held with Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades to solve their differences over docking fees at Larnaca marina, it was announced on Tuesday.

Vafeades said there is an agreement between the state and the contractor to upgrade the marina.

“This is a given,” he said. “However, the contractor’s right to set its own pricing and policy is also a given.

“From the government’s standpoint, we want this investment to continue, it is very important for the country. At the same time, we want boat owners to be able to afford the docking fees.”

On Sunday, around 100 boat owners held a demonstration at the marina over 15 to 25 per cent price rises expected as of April 1.

They held signs that said ‘Cyprus the island with no maritime vision’ and ‘The ministry has sold us out and trapped us’.

Vafeades said he spoke to both sides and listened to their complaints to try and find a viable solution to the impasse.

“We want the marina to flourish, not to have issues,” he said.

No dates for the meetings have been set yet, but Vafeades confirmed they are likely to take place next week.

Asked whether the transport ministry has some sort of control on over docking fees at the marina, he said that they are constantly monitored.

“We will see what comes out of the meeting and how we can mediate to find a viable solution,” Vafeades said.

After the protest on Sunday, Kition called out boat owners, telling them the marina does not belong to them.

“We understand the concerns of boat owners regarding the increase in docking fees,” the statement said.

“However, it must be understood that this is a change which is deemed necessary, imperative and consequential to the rising costs of living, both in Cyprus and abroad.”

Earlier the company had said that the fees in Larnaca were much lower than those in Limassol and elsewhere in Europe. But boat owners said available services do not match up.

“In 2022, the Larnaca marina was given to Kition to be developed and managed, in the manner we see fit and in consultation with the competent authorities,” Kition said.

“It is unconceivable to think that such a huge project can be developed over the years without an increase in prices”.

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

Work on upgrading the Larnaca marina and surrounding area, billed as the largest infrastructure development on the island, is 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.

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