Coal transshipment at Riga Freeport, which is a business that is closely associated with oligarchs, is planned to be relocated to new docks on Krievu Island by the end of the year. EUR 133 million have been invested in this project already. Now the freeport’s authority has to invest EUR 30 million more, as reported by De Facto.
In addition, Riga City Council will have to amend the territory’s planning so that the European Commission does not take away the money that has been provided so far.
It is reported by the programme that relocation to Krievu Island is being performed in order to reduce the volume of coal dust and noise level in the city centre.
De Facto explains that relocation of the port affects two businesses in particular – Strek and Riga Commercial Port Terminals indirectly owned by families of ex-politicians Andris Skele and Ainars Slesers. Once relocated to Krievu Island, Riga Commercial Port will cooperate together with coal owner from Kemerovo Oblast SDS Ugol. This company is part of a holding the largest shareholder in which is Russian billionaire Vladimir Gridin, Russian State Duma deputy from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia, journalists say.
«The European Union has allocated EUR 77 million to relocate the port to Krievu Island – closer to the sea. A total of EUR 133 million have been invested in this project so far. But what has been built so far is not enough. This is why meeting the deadline – end of next year – remain under a big question mark. Both companies agreed to relocate through their teeth. Riga Commercial Port objected the most. The coal terminal views the 2006 agreement with the freeport’s authority as still in force. This agreement states that Krievu Island will have a total of ten docks. But only four have been finished so far,» De Facto journalists report.
Although chairman of the freeport’s board Andris Ameriks notes that «such promises were never given», he does admit that an agreement exists. State Audit’s report mentions this as well. It is stated in the agreement that the total length of docks should be no less than 2 km. What has been built for Krievu Island is slightly longer than 1 km. Sides also agreed areas would have concrete surfaces. There are none at the moment, De Facto comments.
«Considering the lack of clarity in regards to coal transit in the future, businessmen reached an agreement with the port in February that other docks will not be built, but the port will apply concrete surfacing to cargo areas, build access roads and establish a dust fence. The port will provide the necessary funding.»
Ameriks reports that investments may reach up to EUR 30 million, adding that this money will not be gifted to companies – they will pay back in port fees.
De Facto reports that major corrections will be added to the project. It will not be necessary for Riga Commercial Port to relocate all of its infrastructure to Krievu Island, only its coal transshipment infrastructure. Other cargoes will be allowed to be handled on Daugava’s right bank. «The city’s territorial planning does not allow that at the moment.»
On Tuesday, 14 March, Riga City Council will decide on the plan’s amendments to legalize partial remainder of Riga Commercial Port within its old territory.
De Facto reports that it is important that EC does not take away the money that has already been invested in Krievu Island project. The commission’s decision will arrive in 2019. Relocation of coal transshipment infrastructure will have been completed by then.