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Ceturtdiena 18.01.2018 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Riga Freeport and Riga Central Terminal have yet to sign contract; talks continue

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RURiga Freeport continues talks with the second potential company to work on Krievu Island – Riga Central Terminal – regarding the lease contract. The freeport’s representatives hope it will be possible to sign this document on the next meeting, December 10th.

While there is no certainty as to the terms of the signing of the contract on the relocation of Riga Central Terminal to Krievu Island, Riga Freeport management hopes RCT will soon delegate a representative to sign the contract, as reported by Riga Freeport.

When asked about terms of the contract’s signing, RCT noted that «intensive talks are being held with the management board of Riga Freeport».

Latvian Transport Minister Anrijs Matīss explains that both sides are engaged in talks and he has no reason to personally get involved in this process.

He called both sides to continue active talks and sign the contract upon their conclusion. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, this will forfeit EU funding and the project as a whole. «A construction contract has already been signed. Construction on Krievu Island has been launched. As you can see – a large portion of work has been completed. Once all work has been completed, someone will have to pay for all of it,» – said Matīss.

As previously reported, in order to complete the Krievu Island project on schedule, Riga Freeport has to reach an agreement with stevedore companies RCT and Strek, which will have to relocate their cargo-handling services from the centre of Riga to Krievu Island by 2016.

The decision to relocate the port from the city centre to Krievu Island was made by Riga City Council in 2009. In 2012, the European Commission approved Latvia’s submitted project for funding from the European Cohesion Fund. The total costs of the project are estimated at EUR 148 million.

Latvian Transport Minister Anrijs Matīss likely acts as a lawyer for one of the potential companies to work on Krievu Island – Riga Central Terminal. He acts as though he wants to stop the project, because the realization of this project would not benefit this company, notes CEO of Riga Freeport Leonid Loginov.

He claims the money provided by the European Union is not at risk and cargoes will not leave Riga port as long as state representatives do not worry themselves about philosophical assumptions.

Loginov believes the minister’s position does not comply with that of Unity. «It is Matīss’ personal initiative. There is no connection with the coalition, politics or elections,» – explains the CEO. Once the company – RCT – received a document saying that in the event of not signing the agreement to relocate to Krievu Island, ships may stop entering the port starting with 2017, officials of this company ‘decided to use every possible resource to exclude this possibility’.

When asked if the situation would improve if there was a different Transport Minister, Loginov agreed. «It is important that the Transport Minister does not run around as though the businessmen’s lawyer, but would instead sit down with everyone behind one table. This would allow us to reach an agreement in regard to processes that would ensure that some part of cargoes remains in the city centre so that the money intended for the terminal is not lost and it is not necessary to pay penalties,» – explains the official.

The CEO concludes that the scandal is too exaggerated, because the active delaying of the project is related to the fact that one of the companies does not want to relocate. «I can understand businessmen. They are right about no one wanting to listen to them. But the methods they use are too aggressive – running around, telling lies and making big claims. They believe they can use this style to convince the government and municipality to change their minds. There is a matter for the Latvian government to resolve through talks with Brussels; there is the matter for the municipality – carry out talks about ‘greens’. The businessman should be the one the initiate these talks,» – believes Loginov.

When asked how the Transport Minister would react to these proposals, Loginov replied by saying: «What does he say? If he says something, it is something that is told to him by someone else. As I’ve already said: businessmen have activated all of their resources to stop this project. This is why Loginov needs to be taken down and funding has to be stopped. This is what they are doing now. Funding is being cut off, and although they have failed to take me down, I don’t know what will happen in the future.»

As it is known, the throne of Leonid Loginov and his rule at Riga Freeport was shaken by a letter that was addressed to the government and signed by Riga Coal Terminal. In this letter the stevedore company notes that because of the unsuccessful realization of Krievu Island project, Riga Freeport could lose half of its cargoes and funds provided by the European Union.

This letter, signed by Chairman Raivis Veckāgans, notes that the island’s current state of infrastructure demonstrates that the project is being handled irresponsibly and unprofessionally, which puts at risk the funding provided by the EU and potential cargoes for Riga Freeport.

It should be added, however, that Veckāgans has close ties to the criminally accused Ventspils official Aivars Lembergs. For example, he had previously been in the management of companies related to Lembergs – he was in charge of the companies Bio-Venta and Latvijas kuģniecība when they were controlled by the Ventspils oligarch. Here it is work asking what Loginov could have done to Lembergs for the latter to use one of his associates to try and dismiss him from the high-rank post in Riga Freeport’s Board.


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