Piraeus, Greece (PortSEurope) April 8, 2019 – Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) declared two-fifths of the municipality of Piraeus as an “archaeological zone” endangering, restricting or delaying further investment by China’s COSCO Shipping Ports Limited.
Since COSCO acquired the right to operate Piraeus Port Authority SA in August 2016, container traffic has increased from 880,000 TEUs in 2010, to 4.4 million TEUs last year. The port’s performance has satisfied all parties, but further investment by COSCO, as required in the contract with the state, has been put on hold following KAS decision.
The Central Archaeological Council is the highest advisory body on all matters pertaining to the protection of ancient monuments, archaeological sites and sites of exceptional historical or legendary importance up to 1830.
This means that there will now be stricter terms and conditions for land use, and more bureaucratic intervention in new plans.
Separately, in February 2019, Greece’s Port Planning and Development Committee gave a partial approval of the master plan of Piraeus Port Authority SA for further development of the port, following a committee meeting.
The plan includes a new shopping mall within PPA’s premises, hotels and high-rise construction. COSCO plans an approximate €200 million ($226.89 million) investment in a new cruise port hub, and sees additional facilities such as hotels as a key part of this strategy.
COSCO also faces challenges to a plan to build its own logistics centre in the adjacent Keratsini municipality and legal challenges to build a new cruise ship terminal and a request to operate a shipyard.
Part of the PPA contract with the state is for further investment and PPA submitted a €500 million ($567.21 million) master plan for further development of the port, including a number of projects which are not directly linked to commercial port activities – five star hotels, shopping moll, restaurants, entertainment facilities. Some politicians, local traders and shop owners are objecting to this expansion within the PPA location fearing competition.
PPA may, in turn, issue its own counter-challenges, but delays in implementing one of China’s leading infrastructure in the Mediterranean are inevitable. The project has a key role in China’s new Silk Road.
The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities, and cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road routes.
The delays could test relations between the Greek and Chinese governments and also have a negative effect on the image of Greece as an investment opportunity for major projects.
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