A big shipping company is allegedly threatening to halt its route schedules to Italy if authorities do not take measures against migrants at the port of Patras, in North-West Peloponnese. The company Grimaldi Lines has reportedly said it will have its ferries operate from the port of Igoumenitsa in West Epirus, if the problem with migrants is not solved in the next months, local and national media reported on Monday.
In a letter sent to the Port Authorities of Patras, the shipping company requests more security controls and the implementation of international safety standards in order to avoid delays in the ferries departures.
A little later, a company’s representative dismissed the possible withdrawal of the ferries and said that the letter was only about the request to the port authorities to intensify security measures.
Also the Patras Port Authorities (OLPA) issued a statement saying that “no shipping company threatened to withdraw its ferries.” But it confirmed it received a letter by a shipping company it did not named asking better safety and security measures.
Together with Minoan Lines, the Grimaldi Lines have 13 ferries.
Several professional groups that operate in the area has also requested intensified security measures at the port of Patras as hundreds of migrants try to smuggle themselves in trucks an ferries and reach Italy.
“It is mainly the truck drivers who are forced from the moment they arrive at the port to chase migrants who try to climb on their vehicles and illegally reach Italy,” a local news website notes.
“It will be a disaster for the port, if big shipping companies stop their operation,” the site stresses.
Disturbed about the presence of hundreds of migrants mainly form Afghanistan and Pakistan are not only those operating at the port but also locals, who complain about the frequent clashes and fights between migrant groups.
Last week, a 20-year-old Afghan was killed during clashes between different Afghan tribes over control of the abandoned factories used by the migrants to hide until they manage to cross to Italy.
The man was killed after being shot in the head, the autopsy determined