New call to oust Riga port authority chief

The state-appointed half of the executive board of the Free Port of Riga has called for the removal of its long-standing administrator Leonids Loginovs, the Transport Ministry confirmed to media Thursday.

Calling for an extraordinary board meeting with the four-person municipal-appointed half of the executive board, which includes Riga mayor Nils Ušakovs and deputy mayor Andris Ameriks, the government’s representatives on the country’s largest commercial port authority’s board said Loginovs was falling so far behind in managing the move of its facilities from downtown to Krievu sala (island peninsula), that European Union (EU) co-financing for the project was now in jeopardy.

The four government ministry-appointed representatives – Džineta Innusa (Transport), Rolands Arturs Bebris (Environmental Protection and Regional Development), Baiba Bāne (Finance) and Ģirts Greiškalns (Economics) have now formally lodged their move to convene the board to sack Loginovs.

Loginovs has held on to the pivotal administrator’s role since 1998 despite many unsuccessful attempts to dislodge him. State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa in May 2014 and in September 2013 pointed to the need for disciplinary action regarding disorder in the institution’s activities.

The potential lessee of the long-awaited new facility away from the current dry cargo loading ports located downtown, stevedore firm Riga Coal Terminal has complained to the government in writing about the port authority’s failure to fulfil the terms of its contract to develop the Krievu sala facility and put it into operation in order for the firm to begin implementing its business plan.

However, for more than seven-and-a-half years now there have been no documents showing any completion or acceptance of work on any phase of the project so far. The port has single-handedly chosen all objects and infrastructure for development without allowing access to Riga Coal Terminal representatives for oversight and follow-on activity.

The enormous Krievu sala project still requires agreements with stevedore companies Rīgas Centrālais Termināls and Strek, which also need to move their dry-cargo services to Krievu sala from the downtown port facility by December 2016.

On his part, Riga deputy mayor Andris Ameriks said the meeting would take place September 10, but that he was unclear on the reasons for the call to fire Loginovs.

"Just two weeks ago the Transport minister and I visited Krievu sala to follow-up on the project and he had no objections… If the talk is of the move by the stevedore companies, we have an agreement with Strek, but talks are ongoing with RCT,” he told newswire BNS Thursday.

The decision to move the port to the Krievu sala peninsula was taken in the summer of 2009. In 2012 the company BMGS S won a tender for the project, bidding a total of €126.22m.

The EC approved it in April 2012 as a Cohesion Fund project, providing €77m of the €148m-worth of required financing.

Then in September 2013 Finland’s Nordea Bank’s local branch and Pohjola Bank settled on a loan agreement to the Free Port of Riga for €80.2m towards completion of the project.

The project is intended to create four new multi-functional dry-goods cargo loading stations stretching a length of 1180 meters, although original plans had called for eight such facilities altogether.

Riga Coal Terminal’s representatives warn the government that attempts to cover up previous mistakes and incompetency from EU institutions will only increase the financial risks from the possible loss of EU co-financing plus lost revenues from unrealized cargo flows.

Economy
Economy