Qualms quelled as firms agree on Freeport terminal relocation

Doubts over the relocation project of the Riga Freeport to a brand new facility at Krievu sala were dispelled on the final workday of the year, as the Freeport authority’s board approved an agreement with the remaining holdout firm, stevedore company Rīgas Centrālais Termināls (RCT) Tuesday, announced Riga Freeport Board chairman Andris Ameriks.  

"We adopted the agreement with RCT unanimously. All differences have been settled and all obstacles to the relocation and private investing in Krievu Sala removed. The agreement has been approved and we have perfect clarity about the schedule of the relocation... It means that the European project is not threatened," said Ameriks.  

He said that RCT will move to Krievu Sala by 2019. "January 1, 2019 is the final deadline by which the terminal shall no longer be in its present location and performing all its operations at the Krievu Sala infrastructure," the chairman of the Riga Freeport Board explained.

Ameriks declined to specify much the two stevedore companies, RCT and Strek, would have to spend on relocating to Krievu Sala, but hinted that their relocation costs would likely surpass €100 million euros. "This is a serious amount, comparable to our investments from the port and European funds. So this can be considered one of the largest private investment projects in Latvia," said Ameriks.

However RCT representative Raivis Veckagans told national information agency LETA that the stevedore company's own board would not actually sign the agreement until the beginning of the new year, wishing to run the terms by its Russian coal-shipping partners and to take into account various strategic geopolitical risks. Current coal prices are quite low, putting exporters at a disadvantage, Vecvagars explained.

As part of the Krievu Sala project, Riga Freeport needed to reach agreement with both stevedore companies – Strek and RCT – about transferring their business to the new location. The lack of agreements in early September prompted central government representatives on the port's board to stage a non-confidence vote to oust the Freeport’s long-standing CEO, Leonids Loginovs, but he survived the vote thanks to support from Riga city council’s representatives. An agreement with Strek was signed later but was not reached with RCT until today.

The Freeport of Riga Authority plans to develop the Krievu Sala territory in order to move the port’s operations from central Riga to the currently vacant territory in the northern part of Krievu Sala. The port’s infrastructure facilities, including four bulk cargo terminals, utility lines, railway and road access, will be developed in the 56-hectare zone. The total project costs are estimated to total €148 million, of which €76.836 million would come from the EU’s Cohesion Fund.

Riga’s Freeport is the largest port in Latvia according to turnover of both cargo and passengers.

Economy
Economy