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COSCO, Greek firm transform Piraeus port into 'shining star'

Xinhua and China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-10 10:38

COSCO, Greek firm transform Piraeus port into 'shining star'

Fu Chengqiu, president of Piraeus Container Terminal SA, inspects operations at Piraeus port in Athens, Greece, on Monday. XINHUA

ATHENS/BEIJING - In the years since China COSCO Shipping Corp Ltd's arrival at Piraeus, the image of Greece's largest port has changed dramatically.

Greek and Chinese workers are continuing to work hard to realize their vision to transform Piraeus into a "shining star" of the industry, said Tassos Vamvakidis, a manager of Piraeus Container Terminal SA, COSCO Shipping's subsidiary at Piraeus.

Chinese investors initially took over the upgrading and management of Pier II and III for a period of 35 years, while last year COSCO Shipping also acquired the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority which manages Pier I.

"There is no comparison between now and then," Vamvakidis said. In 2010, container handling at Piraeus totaled 880,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, and in 2016, it reached 3.74 million TEUs.

And the port's function has been further diversifying. More than 200 Chinese tourists boarded cruise Celestyal Olympia at the port late last month to travel to Santorini island.

The cruise sailed around the Aegean Sea for a week. Piraeus port will see more than 2,000 Chinese tourists board the cruise in May, according to the group's headquarters in Shanghai.

Other facilities such as new docks to build ships and offshore engineering facilities, as well as new parking areas, will help Greece improve its manufacturing capabilities and build Piraeus into a major vehicle transfer terminal for the Mediterranean region.

But Piraeus' route to success has not been a smooth one.

Some reservations were initially expressed in sections of Greek society about the investment, amid concerns that it would do little to alleviate the serious unemployment problem in Greece.

COSCO Shipping said its investment in Piraeus creates jobs and is helping to invigorate the Greek economy. The development of logistics platforms for combined transport and value-added services at the port will create even bigger opportunities for Greece and its economy, Vamvakidis said.

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