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Famagusta Port

 The Famagusta Port is under Turkish occupation since 1974 and by means of an Administrative Act (ΚΔΠ 265 of 1974) which was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic No.1139 of 4.10.1974 was proclaimed closed for all shipping for the interest of the Republic.

It is a natural port which served Cyprus trade since the ancient times and to which man intervened for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century during the British Administration for the purpose of building stone quays. The first phase of the project for converting Famagusta port into a modern port lasted from 1898 to 1905 at a cost of 123.000 pounds.

After that, the stone quays were extended during the second phase which lasted from 1925 to 1933 at a cost of 161.030 pounds and reached 550m. For many years these quays operated together with a wooden pier of 100m length which was constructed in 1921, offering roadstead to 74 shipping miles.

The outer harbour i.e. the new Famagusta harbour was constructed after Cyprus was declared a Republic and was turned over for use in 1966 over doubling the length of the quays to 1195m.

The old port (inner harbour) of Famagusta was connected to the outer harbour via an entry (opening) cut through the ancient walls of Famagusta when access to the port became impossible through the old town as a result of intercommunal strife.

The invasion came at a period of congestion for Famagusta port. Many a time 30-35 ships awaited to be served, At peak unloading time barges were being used instead of unloading directly onto the quays or on many occasions ships were obliged to moor side by side each other (double banking).

The congestion problems were so evident as was also the need for extension that the Government begun to study the possibility of creating a special ……….. for the unloading of grain as well as the reformation of almost all the land area because all warehouses were old and did not correspond at all to the increased requirements of the trade at the time.

The development projects of the port before the invasion included apart from the creation of a …….. for the grain, the construction of silos as well as plans for the demolition of the old warehouses and the creation of new ones with serious consideration being given to the creation of a parking area on the roof of one of the biggest warehouses which would be built.

The vicinity of the defensive wall which is situated exactly behind the inner harbour as well as the existence of ancient tombs in the outer harbour had averted plans for the extension of open storage spaces to the west.

The problem of port congestion had brought to focus the so called Reef Scheme, the idea of its extension to the opposite side of the port, where there is a reef and hence the name of the scheme. However, neither this consideration could proceed due to the 1974 events.

Due to tourism the Famagusta port begun to develop some passenger traffic which traditionally had always been handled by the ports of Lemesos and Larnaka. It has also significantly developed passenger traffic with reference to cruise ships due to its proximity to archaeological sites such as those of Salamis, Saint Varnavas and Enkomi.

Since 1970 containers begun to be unloaded at Famagusta port which made things worse since the port wasn’t intended for that purpose.

The inner harbour accepted ships of 131m length having a draught not exceeding 6.7m which moored alongside the main quay. The outer harbour accepted ships of up to 192m in length and having a draught up to 9.1m.

The port was equipped with 10 mobile cranes which were at the quays and served some 127.000 tons of cargo monthly and a floating crane handling the containers.

The port had at its disposal 3 tug boats (500, 650 and 1320 HP) the OTHELLO, DESDEMONA and ONESILUS as well as two pilot boats, the SALAMIS and EVAGORAS, names clearly affected by Famagusta’s history and its defence wall which constituted the boundaries of its port.

The Government Ports Department (the precursor of the Ports Authority) had its offices outside the port area. The personnel of Famagusta port comprised 47 Greek Cypriots, 16 Turkish Cypriots and 1 Armenian.

When Famagusta was taken over by the Turks in August 1974, its port was handling the largest percentage of the marine import and export trade with the exception of grapes and asbestos which continued to be shipped from Lemesos.

Famagusta harbour was the sea port of the capital Nicosia and the basic lungs of the economy of the country.
Today, the port continues to be in the area ‘closed’ by the occupying forces and we know very little of its fate.

It is used by the regime of the occupiers for cargo as well as for ferry boats and Turkish navy ships are berthing there.