Fears over loss of vital ferry link.
Residents on the holiday island of Ithaca are pleading for help to restore a vital ferry service to Kefalonia and the mainland.
Ferry services from the mainland port of Patras to Ithaca, via the port of Sami on Kefalonia, have been put on hold as the ferry "Seven Islands" undergoes a refit and is unlikely to be restored until next year and maybe not at all.
But the move by ferry firm Strintzis Ferries has left Ithaca island without vital supplies and services as links with both ports at Sami and Patras are broken and are unlikely to be restored until the new year
The Ionian Ferries.12(Ionian Ferries) company has offered an alternative service but the boat will not use the ports at either Sami on Kefalonia or Patras on the mainland.
Ithaca authorities say the alternative is unacceptable as established ferry links are lost. A letter to island authorities on neighbouring Kefalonia warns: "Ithacans will be denied the opportunity to go through Sami Argostoli, and should go through the port of Poros, which is about an hour's drive from Argostoli."
"Ithaca is essentially severed from Patras which is very frequent destination for medical emergencies and for company obligations. It will bring a significant financial burden for residents of Ithaca at a time when the economic crisis and decline in income makes them unable to meet their basic needs."
In recent years Ithaca islanders have complained at the steady decline in ferry schedules, large increases in ticket prices and the failure of the Greek government to respond to calls from both residents of Ithaca and ferry operators to serve the interests and needs of local citizens.
Ithaca islanders have proposed the creation of a publicly controlled ferry service with residents in control of routes, fares, licenses, and shipbuilding but with no success so far.
They have urged the Greek government yet again to restore full ferry services to both Sami and Patras.
A letter to authorities on Kefalonia calling for their support says: "Due to the many and varied problems created – servicing problems in health or administrative matters, serious problems in the supply of goods etc., we ask for your support in our struggle for immediate shipping reconnecting with Patras which is a lifeline for Ithaca."
"The port of Patras, as a main trading port in western Greece, has served fully and was always helping our island in the commercial development and tourist character of Homer's Ithaca."