Increase in turnover of Latvian ports is not convincing, especially the turnover of the Ventspils port, which unlike the port of Riga is still significantly below the previously achieved records.
Some for the fall of turnover convincingly blame Russia’s policy, other – port authorities and Aivars Lembergs’ (Mayor of Ventspils, Ventspils Free Port board member) ambitions and even blackmail concerning Russian cargo. This was laid out during the discussion on port management, organized by Nozare.lv.
Ventspils free port administrator Imants Sarmulis, known to be avid follower of Lembergs, tries to explain that the drop from 37 million tons last year to 28.4 million tons transshipped is because the oil pipeline was shut down, “and the port management has nothing to do with that.”
Representative of “Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics” (BATL) Aivis Landmanis, however, stresses that the main reason why oil left port of Ventspils, is because some politicians have too big ambitions, and even use blackmailing concerning Russian cargo. “At that time, there was a choice if Russia will support the transport of goods through the Baltic countries. By applying mentioned policies, the cargo went to Russia,” says Landmanis.
“We have to look what was the total amount of cargo transshipped through the Baltic Sea east coast ports, what is it now, and what is the proportion of Latvian ports. Ventspils has not only lost in the absolute terms, but and in fact, gained nothing from the overall growth. Russian ports, Tallinn and Klaipeda are essentially reaping its volume. What Latvia has got from the overall pie, compared to the others, I believe, is totally insufficient,” says BATL representative.
He believes that Latvian ports have lost the competition. “When it comes to pipelines and port management, then the problem is that frequently the port management or local government bodies have bonded with businessmen and establish policies which do not allow free investments from the outside. Only companies which have an interest can evolve,” he points.
It is also shown by the trial against Lembergs. This is also why the court’s decision exists to arrest and entrust the management of so many parts of the Lembergs terminal property to another person.
Zatlers Reform Party (ZRP) Agent and Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sandra Sondore-Kukule characterize Latvian ports with dry numbers, “International competitiveness index for port infrastructure shows that Estonia is on the 18th place, Lithuania – 44th and Latvia – 51st. ” Political and geopolitical circumstances apply both to Klaipeda and Tallinn, and Riga and Ventspils geographically are in the best location. It has to be investigated why the neighbors in similar situation are ahead of the Latvian ports, stresses politician.