Blocked Rail Line Losses Mount

Protesting refugees and migrants block a train at the Greek-Macedonia border as they chant "Open the Borders" in the northern Greek village of Idomeni, the Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. About 5,500 migrants are braving rainy weather at a tent camp close to the border and another 500 are camped at a gas station 17 kilometers away. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Refugees obstructing railway lines in northern Greece on the closed border with FYROM have cost Greek businesses at least four million euros ($4.57 million) so far.

That was the estimate by a business association in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and as the government has not removed soe 11,000 refugees and migrants in Idomeni who still hope FYROM will open its borders and let them pass to other more prosperous European Union countries.

A deal the European Union has struck with Turkey to swap refugees – most of them stuck in Greece – has been suspended because Greece can’t deal with an overwhelming number of asylum applications.

A makeshift refugee camp sits almost on the border between Greece and FYROM although human rights groups and volunteer aids have mostly moved out in protest over the EU-Turkey deal.

Many of the refugees are camped on rail lines, preventing cargo from being shipped out of Greece or into the country, frustrating Greek businesses.

The losses are linked to increased transport and storage costs, as cargos are now shipped by rail towards the rest of Europe via the longer and costlier Bulgarian route, by up to 30 percent more. Delays have also increased warehouse costs.

In a letter to Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis, the Association of Thessaloniki Entrepreneurs cited “huge losses” for exporters and shipping companies, the business daily Naftemporiki reported.

The group also points to penalties being paid for failure to fulfill transport deadlines and said Greek manufacturers are experiencing delays and higher costs in importing raw materials from central Europe.

“The law should be enforced in order to permanently free up the rail network, so that transport can continue unobstructed…” the letter reads.