Latvia, Legislation, Port, Transport

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 07.12.2022, 22:17

Riga Port asks government for assistance in breaking up ice

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 23.02.2011.Print version
The Riga Free Port Authority has requested the government to take a greater share of responsibility in breaking through the ice-packed Gulf of Riga, the business information portal was informed by Riga Free Port Authority spokeswoman Anita Leiskalne.

''The Riga Free Port Authority is requesting the Latvian government, especially the Transport Ministry, to take a greater share of responsibility in helping to solve the current situation,'' Leiskalne said.


As reported, stevedores are outraged at the chaos at Riga port, newspaper "Dienas Bizness" reports today.


Altogether, 34 ships are trapped in ice in the Gulf of Riga at the moment, and businessmen note that the situation is very serious, writes LETA.


Most stevedores interviewed by "Dienas Bizness" preferred to speak on condition of anonymity fearing Freeport of Riga sanctions. However, international logistics company Waldkontor owner Claus Rodenberg was not afraid of revealing his opinion: "Four our company's ships have been stuck in the Gulf of Riga for several days now. The situation is problematic, both in terms of cargo maintenance and the ships' safety. It is strange that the Freeport of Riga has just one icebreaker, because winter, in these latitudes, is not something unusual. I wonder why, given the current economic situation, Riga port gives cargoes away so easy – as they will most probably go elsewhere after such a situation."


Some ships have been trapped in ice since February 13 and may run out of fuel soon, whereas their crews – out of food and water. Part of the port's clients have shunted their cargoes to other Baltic ports, including Ventspils. Stevedores estimate that Riga Port's income may therefore decrease by at least LVL 0.5 million.


The businessmen emphasize that they do not understand how Riga Port's operations are organized, because everything is happening very chaotically. It is also inexplicable what principles the icebreaker "Varma" works according to. The businessmen have no idea when the ships, currently in Irbe Strait, could reach Riga. The situation is paradoxical because, for instance, in Finland ships in a similar situation must be provided help in four hours at the latest.


Although the situation threatens the competitiveness of the Freeport of Riga, the port is not doing anything. The businessmen believe that the port should either buy one more icebreaker or change its attitude to the problem. Everything is fine with navigation in Estonian waters, all ports are fully operational there, although temperatures in Estonia are as low as in Latvia.


Freeport of Riga Strategic Planning and Project Management Department's Director Vladimirs Makarovs says though that the Freeport of Riga and the "Varma" are working 24 hours a day. He notes that the "Varma" first goes to free those ships that are low on fuel, and that there are no other priorities for the icebreaker.


Makarovs also says that the port cannot afford to have one more icebreaker, as the maintenance cost is around LVL 1 million a year.


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