Western gateway to Greece grows bigger and stronger
Once just a small Adriatic port, Igoumenitsa in north-west Greece is developing into a major hub for ferries to Italy (Venice, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi) and the Ionian Islands. Under a three-phase project lasting over a decade, it is being transformed into a port that both rivals Patras further south while taking some of the pressure off it.
"The new port of Igoumenitsa has vastly improved the facilities for passenger and freight transport to and from Italy, benefiting the local region, Greece and international travellers."
Nikolaos Kotsios, Managing Director Port Authority of Igoumenitsa
One of the 12 major Greek ports, Igoumenitsa plays an increasingly important role in connecting south-east Europe. It is also the beginning of the Egnatia Odos Motorway, which connects Greece to Turkey.
Expanded port and facilities
Over the last decade, Greece has been modernising its ports with a view to enhancing their competitiveness and guaranteeing first-class port services. The challenge is to keep pace with the current and future market demands of national and Mediterranean transport.
The development of Igoumenitsa port is ambitious and scheduled over three phases. The first of these, Phase A, was completed in 2006 and was implemented with the oversight of the Greek Ministry of Environment and Public Works. It is managed by the Port Authority of Igoumenitsa (OLIG S.A.). Slightly more than half of Phase A funding came from the EU’s Cohesion Fund.
The main work included construction of a new port some 300 metres away from the old one, with piers 160 metres long. Several new buildings were erected for a passenger terminal, port control and administration. New equipment was installed and a start made on creating a new land zone.
Phase B is well underway and will ensure that the port can accommodate large ferries and cruise ships. Work involves construction of a wharf connecting the old port’s south pier with the Phase A piers. The land zone behind the piers is being reclaimed, and two new terminal stations and other key facilities for passengers and freight are under construction. This phase also involves widening and deepening the Igoumenitsa sailing route, and protecting the port’s entrance.
Good hinterland links
When Phase C is completed by 2013, the port will have a new freight centre and a terminal. These will further equip Igoumenitsa with the infrastructure needed for maritime tourism transport– which more than ever require first-rate port facilities and services. The work to date is paying dividends, with passenger traffic growing by a third between 1996 and 2008 to reach 2.69 million.
Northern Greece and the Near East are also benefiting from the new Egnatia motorway. Now completed, it stretches 670 km from Igoumenitsa to the Turkish border. With branches to the neighbouring Balkan states, it will become the main corridor for east-west trade flows.