Full halt of cargo transit could mean unemployment for 50,000 people in Latvia
Next week Latvian Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss plans to travel to Moscow in order to meet with his Russian counterpart and discuss the railway repair plans and the expected limitation of cargo flow to Latvia.
In his interview to Rīta Panorāma programme, the minister explained that this meeting is not planned in advance. He added that he has yet to contact the Russian Transport Minister, because the latter is currently on vacation. The politician nevertheless does his best to organize this meeting and hopes it will take place next week.
Matiss promised to explain to the Russian side that the arrest of the now former head of LDz, Ugis Magonis, is not related to political activities, and that Latvia’s position in regard to Russian transit remains unchanged.
Matiss does not have any detailed information in regard to the Russian side’s plans for railway repairs and expected cargo traffic restrictions. He claims that the current cargo traffic restrictions are not significant.
The politician explains that the Latvian government had previously developed a plan in case of a halt of cargo flow from Russia. Matiss emphasized, however, that the expected loss of cargoes will come as a major shock to Latvia’s national economy.
77% of types of cargo (coal, oil products and mineral fertilizers) were carried in Latvia by rail. Most of those cargoes came from Russia. If the cargo flow stops completely, 50,000 people in Latvia will lose their jobs and Latvia’s national economy will suffer loss of EUR 1.6 billion in turnover.
Matiss emphasized that he could agree with the Latvian Regional Alliance and resign, but that would be too easy and irresponsible of him. With that, he said it is far more important to stay and fight in order to make sure railway transit industry in Latvia continues to exist.
LDz Vice-President Eriks Smuksts departed for Moscow on Monday in order to try and acquire more detailed information about railway line repairs. If cargo flow is not limited significantly, losses could reach a few million tons, which would not impact LDz’s turnover too much.
On 6 August news were reported that Russia plans to carry out repairs of railway lines in Latvia’s direction and that there would be cargo traffic fluctuations in the next couple of months.
According to unofficial information, Russia could halt transit of coal through Riga Freeport. However, there has not been any official confirmation to this information.
On 7 August LDz received word from Russian Railway that repairs of railway lines in Latvia’s direction will be carried out, but this is not expected to impact cargo flow ‘too much’.
BNN had previously reported that Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics has urged Latvian state institutions and high-rank officials to carry out work in order to reduce the dependence of the country’s transport and logistics industry on Russia.
Instead of solely maintaining good relations with Russia, BATL urges officials to look for alternatives in Asia.