Options for Larnaca’s port and marina are being evaluated and there is a commitment to inform the public as soon as possible about the next steps, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades said on Monday.

Speaking on CyBC radio, the minister said he had visited the site over the weekend to see the port’s operations, including the ongoing Amalthea initiative and the securing of equipment, such as cranes.

“Amalthea is currently not operating with cranes but by other means,” the minister added. “We want it to increase the output from the port and this will happen soon.”

Access to equipment previously supplied by ex-managing company Kition is being handled through the attorney-general’s office and will be cleared up within 30 days, he said.

Employees, meanwhile, have seen some pay interruptions which are being handled by the labour ministry, Vafeades said, although President Nikos Christodoulides on Saturday assured the former employees of Kition that there was no reason to be concerned.

Later on Monday, Vafeades and Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou met with the 87 employees of Kition, with trade union reps also in attendance.

Following the meeting, Panayiotou again gave assurances that the workers would retain their positions, even as the Cyprus Ports Authority is set to take over the running of the port and marina for the time being.

Employees are worried that they might get the chop during the transition. But the labour minister pledged this will not happen.

“The upcoming period will be a transitional one in terms of the future management of these critical infrastructures, and in this context all workers can be employed and continue to contribute to the operation of the marina and the port, via the Larnaca Development Corporation,” said Panayiotou.

Responding to questions about the status of the Kition employees – whether they can work under a new employer even though Kition has not officially fired them – the minister said yes.

Otherwise, he noted, the employees would be held “hostage” by the company. Even though technically Kition is still their employer, the workers may work for a different entity and receive full pay.

Panayiotou conceded that terminating the contract with Kition was “unfortunate and unpleasant, but inevitable, for the public interest”.

For his part, Vafeades spoke on the issue of the cranes at the port, designated as the property of Kition. Until this issue is resolved legally, the port will have to operate with subcontractors.

“Whereas the contract stipulates that the property status of the port equipment must be cleared up within 30 days, we hope to clear it up much sooner than that, to restore normalcy at the port,” he said.

Other loose ends, such as the liquidation of an outstanding guarantee which had been requested by the state are proceeding “as normal” through the courts, Vafeades said.

Multiple suggestions have been recorded for the project’s reboot, he said, and they involve breaking down the project into smaller components and reducing its scale.

One suggestion offers a markedly different vision for the works, the minister added, declining, however, to elaborate at this stage.

According to the minister, time is of the essence and all efforts are focused on “materialising the works in whatever form they will take as soon as possible”. What is clear is that both a marina and a port will be the outcome but establishing a new thrust for the project, including a new tendering process, will take time.

A re-evaluation is underway as to what types of cargo are transported through Larnaca the minister said, hinting at the possibility of a niche specialisation of the port from which farmers and livestock operators could stand to benefit.

“It is not possible at this stage to say if [the restart] will take years,” or be more immediate, Vafeades said, and changed circumstances must be taken into account.

One scenario to speed up the process would be for the state’s public works department to take on the building of roads and pumping stations, previously included in the now defunct project.