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Helen Tzortzopoulos

March 1998. English Section. Main News. Kythiraiki Ithea.

Helen Tzortzopoulos.

Αρ. Φύλλου: 191
Από το αρχείο της εφημερίδας "Κυθηραϊκή Ιδέα"

A wave of enthusiasm has hit Kytherians as news of the proposal for the purchase of a ferry to service the West coast of Crete, Kythera, Anti-Kythera and the Peloponnese spreads throughout the community. A steering committee has already been formed with representatives from each area concerned:

1. Mr. P. Frangoyiannis - General Manager of ANEK
2. Mr. K. Marathakis member of the Board of ANEK.
3. Mr. E. Casimaty, Kythera's Eparho.
4. Dr. P. Tzannes President of the Kytherian Brotherhood Piraeus.
5. Mr. D. Tzannes representative of the Kytherian Truckers' Association.
6. Mr. J. Glitsos President of the Anti-Kythera Association,
7. Mr. Varouchakis - representative of the County of Kissamos
8. Mr. J. Klonizakis - Deputy Nomarhi of Hania Crete
9. Mr. J. Malapanis - Mayor of Kalamata.
10. Mr. E. Anastasopoulos - representative of the County of Messinia.

The frustration wrought by the deficiencies in Kythera's transport problems has been the Kytherian community's greatest woe for decades, and Kythera's Eparho,Emmanuel ("Lucky") Casimaty vowed to find a solution prior to the expiry date of his term of office. As luck would have it, ANEK came into the picture. ANEK for many years have successfully operated ferries between Crete, Piraeus and Italy having moved in on the market at a time when the expansion and demand of the Cretan tourist trade and agricultural industry was on an upward trend. The ferries under ANEK's management are publicly owned and it is to this end, that negotiations are being entered into for a similar vessel to service Kythera, Anti-Kythera and the Peloponnese.

On the 9th February, a meeting was called at the Trifilion Centre in Athens inviting all Kytherians to attend with a view to discussing and analysing the prospects of the venture and to tender applications for allotments of shares - par value of which is Drachs. 1,000.- per share. The entitlement to purchase shares is open to all Kytherians whether they be from Kythera or the diaspora. Raising capital should not present a problem as most people will be anxious to join the bandwagon. The share capital which must be raised is 25% of the total of approx. Drachs. 1 billion for the purchase of the vessel. The balance will be raised in equal proportions by the Cretans and Peloponnesians.

Even though a great deal of interest has been shown by sectors of the community a disappointingly small number of persons were present at the meeting - about 50 or so. Another meeting is scheduled for the 23rd February when hopefully a larger number of people will be present. Plans are still in the initial stages - legal formalities have not yet been completed and it is in everyone’s interests to participate in discussions, present their views and any queries that may arise etc. As mentioned in previous columns, shipping is a very intricate and difficult field open to many unforeseen hazards, and it is for the unforeseen that one must be prepared. In the writer’s humble view and opinion, the fund raising is the easiest part of the deal. However, in order to attract investors there are certain questions which must be answered in relation to management and running costs which are the difficult aspects. First and foremost there are the legal factors. The Kytherians should appoint their own legal counsel to protect their 25% interest - afterall, this will not be a charitable enterprise it will be a business partnership. Will there be a binding agreement stipulating that even if the route taking in Kythera and Anti-Kythera is non-profitable, the service to those ports will continue throughout the whole year? This is after all the crux of the matter - standard dependable transport during the winter months. Secondly, we have the financial aspects. As this is a business venture, we need a feasibility study based on facts and figures. What are the official statistics regarding passenger and vehicular traffic to and from the ports in question? What are the anticipated running costs of the subject vessel which include crew wages, stores, provisions, spares, bunker supplies, repairs and maintenance, port dues, insurance premiums etc.? What reserve capital will be required for the vessel’s maintenance and will our 25% ownership be called upon to contribute extra capital for any unforeseen expenditure that may arise? Who will ultimately be responsible for any debts that may be incurred ? Thirdly, will the Dept. of Mercantile Marine subsidize the route during the winter months? If yes, how binding is the Minister's word? If no .....God forbid!

Being wary is a necessary precaution as far too many people have been burnt in the shipping game - usually due to their lack of knowledge and understanding of the specific field. It is not unlike the stockmarket - an area of high risk. This is the advantage of ANEK's involvement. ANEK have been successfully operating for many years and their vessels are supported by their own shareholders. Great rivalry exists between ANEK and their competitors MINOAN LINES to the point that no shareholders of ANEK will ever board a competitor's vessel. This is one way of ensuring custom !

If positive responses to the above questions are forthcoming at the meeting planned for the 23rd February, many Kytherians will definitely follow their hearts, fulfil a life -long dream and sign the application for shares that will eventually make them shipowners! Bearing in mind the plus factors, the Kytherian community's ambition of acquiring a Kytherian vessel could be realised. As in all business ventures there is no guarantee of success but then again if all Kytherian families contribute a symbolic amount towards the purchase of the vessel without investing their life savings it could be a worthwhile risk which might even pay dividends in the end. Without wanting to sound pessimistic lets just say, for some of us it's "once bitten twice shy" - but then again "nothing ventured nothing gained". It's up to you.

It looks as if the Fraud Squad will be setting up a permanent office in Kythera very shortly with the wave of crime hitting the island! A disaster hit the Livadi Co-Operative Society which cost its members Drachs. 68 million! A bogus businessman sent 4 tanker lorries to Kythera to buy 100 tons of the new season's oil paying a deposit of Drachs. 10 million by cheque upon receipt of the goods. The agreed price was Drachs. 680.- per kilo. The balance of Drachs. 58 million was paid in cheques which not only bounced but were issued from a stolen cheque book! The incident which took place early January was a bad start for the new year for the Co-Op’s members who will have to share the cost of the loss from the Society's cash reserves.

Difficult days for the agricultural community are ahead - let alone having to bear the burden of fraudulent activity. Over production and drops in prices for various agricultural commodities throughout Greece and reductions in E.C. subsidies have brought things to a head as farmers lobby and demonstrate for government assistance. If the T.V. serial “Tzivaeri” ratings are high it can only be that every Kytherian household sits glued faithfully, every Thursday night with bated breath before their television screens waiting for a scene from Kythera to flash before their eyes, or to spot the local personalities filling in the background as extras. Many of us though, are in a quandary as to the whereabouts of some of the sites which are supposedly Kytherian. With so many magnificent sights the island has to offer, it seems a pity that a lot of the filming, although attributed to our island, appears to have been done in other locations.

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