Speech of Chairman of BOD, Mr. Konstantinos Barkayiannis, on the event for the 120th anniversary of the Corinth Canal Inauguration
Isthmia, September 28th, 2013
Speech of the Chairman of the BOD of AEDIK, Mr. Konstantinos Barkayiannis
120 years ago on 25 July 1893 Corinth Canal was inaugurated with the presence of Bishop of Corinth Sokratis Koliatsos, King George the 1st, as well as of the Greek Government and many people.
The dream for connecting Corinthian Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic of ancient Corinth's tyrant of Periandros on 602 BC became a reality 2500 years later.
Periandros was distinguished by his intense activity on developing projects of great economic and cultural significance and he was the first who conceived the construction of Isthmus of Corinth. This very important project could not be built at those times since the technical means were not that advanced.
But since the trade of Corinth was booming then he decided to construct a purpose-built paved road called Diolkos, which its starting point was ancient Kechries and finished in Lecheon, the ancient port of Corinth.
A large part of ancient Diolkos has survived while its preservation is imperative and has to be understood from all related institutions and authorities.
The first construction effort of Isthmus was initiated from Nero who followed the construction plan made in from Julius Caesar. Nero's effort started in 67 BC and he managed to build the first 3,000 meters from the side of Corinthian Gulf.
Works ceased when Nero was forced to return to Rome in order to confront the rebellion of General Galba. Eventually, Nero died shortly after his return to Rome.
It is important to be noted that during the construction of the project in modern times, 26 trial wells of 15-25 meters deep were found and the final geographical position of the current canal is identical with that plans from Julius Caesar. Moreover, in the point 1050 of Corinthian Gulf side Nero's upper body is carved into the side walls.
After the Revolution of 1821, the first governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, one
of the big projects that he envisioned for the free country was the opening of the Canal. For this reason, he appointed the specialist engineer Virlet D 'Aoust to develop
a draft construction plan. Unfortunately, the difficulty to ensure the necessary funding, it temporarily canceled the project.
Nevertheless, the idea was not abandoned and in November 1869 along with opening of the Suez Canal, the Prime Minister Thrasyvoulos Zaimis initiated the law for the "Construction of Corinth Canal". This law, gave the right to the Greek Government to grant to companies or individuals the privilege to construct and operate of the Corinth Canal.
In 1881, the Greek government granted the right for the construction and operation of Corinth Canal for 99 years to the Hungarian General Istvan Turr.
In 1882, Turr founded in Paris a societe' anonyme under the name "International Society of Marine Canal of Corinth" having secured the guarantees and financing from French banks.
The project went through many adventures until 1889 when the lack of funds ceased the works and the company ceased its operations.
In March 1890, Prime Minister Charilaos Tricoupis, the so-called founder of the young Greek State infrastructure and strong supporter for the construction of Corinth Canal, appointed Andreas Syngros to carry on the project.
The project was finally completed in 1893 and inaugurated officially in 25.07.1893.
The company which Syngros founded in 1906, ceased its operations due to financial problems. In 1906, National Bank of Greece took over company's operations and it founded the New Corinth Canal société anonyme which operated until 31/10/1980.
On 01/11/1980 the Greek government took over the responsibility for the operation and founded the société anonyme Corinth Canal-AEDIK.
From 2001 to early 2010, the operation of the canal was concessed to the private company PERIANDROS SA which entered into bankruptcy due to extensive financial losses.
The canal is 6343 meters long, 24.60 meters wide on the sea surface and 21 meters in seabed and 8 meters deep.
It is worth noting that in the initial plan of the construction project of Canal's width was set to be about 44 meters but 24.6 meters was eventually made. The reduction of Canal's width from 44 meters to 24 is attributed to pure economic reasons at that time.
The Canal is an international marine transportation node and more than 1.5 million ships of various sizes and nationalities have used it from the beginning of its operations till today.
It is the fastest and the safest waterway for ships coming from the ports of the Ionian Sea, the Adriatic Sea, South Italy and directed towards the ports of the Eastern Mediterranean and vice versa.
The Corinth Canal is not only an international shipping node but also a tourist attraction point. Hundreds of thousands of tourists from domestic and abroad visit the Canal every year and admire this great project while crossing through it and others indulge a new activity which takes place in the Canal, bungee jumping.
Company's Management perceived its enormous importance of the tourist development of the Canal and has planned investments which will be completed in 2015. The whole regional area will be upgraded and many new jobs will be created.
In March 2011, the government appointed a new Company management and a Board of Directors, which I have the honor to be the Chairman and CEO, with a dual mission: The first was the financial restructuring and the second to examine the potential of it a widening and expansion in order to meet the ever-growing demand of international shipping and tourism.
The financial health of the company has currently become a reality. 2013 operating profit will exceed 850,000 euros and this is the greatest level achieved from 1980 till today.
Having achieved its financial re-organization, Corinth Canal Company, can now plan its future with optimism.
In its second mission, and on the country-important need to make large-scale project and meet the growing needs of shipping and tourism, the company's management studied various scenarios for its repairing/maintenance and its widening/expansion and reached to the following conclusions:
The Corinth Canal operating since 1893 requires corresponding to the contemporary needs of shipping, tourism and economy, in order to be placed into the European Transportation networks as to proceed with the necessary investments either for its repairing/maintenance or for its widening/expansion.
In case of its widening and expansion (the original plan is 44 meters width), the benefits in shipping and tourism will be of long term effect and the Corinth Canal will efficiently rise to our century’s needs. The Company’s Management estimates that the Corinth Canal’s widening/expansion is an absolute developmental project that besides the immediate financial results for the Canal (quintuple of revenue), will decisively contribute to Tourism, Shipping and our Economy’s development in general.
The suggested project of widening/expansion is included in the 2013-2016 Strategic and Operational Plan of the Corinth Canal as submitted to the Ministry of Finance on 11.09.2012. Nonetheless, the implementation decision solemnly belongs to the political leadership, as such projects of this extend comprise central political choices. The Management’s task is to plan and propose the strategies and their political development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today’s event is co-hosted by the Corinth Canal Company and the Embassy of Hungary in Greece. The Board of Directors and I thank you for joining us today celebrating 120 years of the Corinth Canal operation and we address to all authorities to unite our strengths to make Charilaos Trikoupis’ original vision -the Canal’s widening- come true.