A ministerial meeting resolved to guarantee transportation between Samothrace and Alexandroupoli on the mainland immediately, to begin improvement works on the island's two outdated ports, and to push tourism on the island particularly in the market of Romania, on Monday afternoon.
An emergency meeting was called by State Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis at Maximos Mansion to try and resolve the issue of transportation when engine failure in both ships "Saos" and "Saonissos" left local authorities scrambling to get hundreds of tourists accomodated until replacements could show up, days later. Problems were further compounded by strong winds at the time that prevented replacements from reaching the island off the coast of northern Greece.
Decisions at the meeting that was scheduled for 13.00 include the following:
- Guaranteed short-term replacements for the two ships until the owner company's contract runs out on October 31.
- The immediate start of cleaning and upgrading the ports of Kamariotissa, the main one on Samothrace, and Thermes, including the dredging of debris and silt at the ports that could ground a ship. Funding will be supplied by the Shipping & Island Policy Ministry to the Alexandroupoli Port Authority.
- Start of works to prevent flooding that had been proclaimed following severe damage in September 2017 but were never initiated, worth 4.5 million euros, added to works to maintain the road network, already ongoing and worth 3.5 million euros (through the East Macedonia-Thrace Region).
- Joint actions of the Ministry of Tourism with the Greek tourism agency's (EOT) office in Romania to encourage visitors from Romania, who account for nearly a third of all visitors to the island.
- The introduction of a new shipping line connecting Samothrace, Alexandroupoli and Limnos island.
The ministers also decided to upgrade the terms of contracts for ships of remote islands to include more modern ships and replacements in case of breakdowns.
The meeting included the ministers of Shipping & Island Policy Yiannis Plakiotakis; Tourism Charis Theocharis; Infrastructure & Transport Kostas Karamanlis; Interior Takis Theodorikakos; Deputy Ministers to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos (responsible for government coordination) and Stelios Petsas (government spokesman), and East Macedonia & Thrace Regional Governor Christos Metios.
Gerapetritis is scheduled to chair a second meeting on the issue at Maximos Mansion at 17.00 with local agencies, the outgoing and the mayor-elect of Samothrace, and MPs from the region of Evros. Skertsos, Petsas and Metios will attend this meeting as well.
Source: ANA - MPA