De Facto

EP deputātiem dažādas pieejas dāsni atalgoto palīgu izvēlei

De Facto

Zīmju valodā. De Facto

Sēlijas poligona attīstībā vēl daudz neskaidrību

Much unclear about future Sēlija military base

Two years ago, Latvia decided to build a new military training ground in Sēlija. To speed up the process, the Saeima passed a special law a year ago, but from the looks of things, they are not going very fast, Latvian Television's De Facto reported on May 12.

LTV "De Facto" found out that design works for the first phase of the base construction have started, but construction tenders are not expected to be announced until the end of this year or early next year. The first phase of the military base is expected to be completed by 2026. This means that construction work would have to be completed in less than a year, which is unlikely. 

The plan for the next phase of development should be ready by July so that work on it can start in practice next year, and be completed within six years. Then facilities such as warehouses, barracks, a canteen and a medical center, among others, would be built. Then, in theory, the Sēlija training ground could host a brigade-level NATO-allied military unit of up to five thousand people, as well as national defense service troops and other units. At the moment, however, industry officials indicate that the soon-arriving allied troops will not be living in Sēlija daily, at least in the coming years.

It has been previously reported that the entire base could cost around €700 million. However, the Ministry of Defense is currently not prepared to confirm this figure or to name others.

The expected breakdown of the investment over the coming years is also not yet clear. And it is not known whether any other funding could be raised for the development of the base besides the state budget.

The Sēlija military base is expected to take up 25,596 hectares of land. Most of the property belongs to the State JSC Latvian State Forests, and around a thousand hectares are privately owned.

So far, there is no sign of a military base in the area allocated for it. Intensive logging is evident - Latvian State Forests are finishing the work that was started earlier, and no new work is planned. The first phase of the base is budgeted at €36.5 million and should be completed by the end of 2025 year.

The search for builders is expected to start at the end of this year, or even a little later. This means that the construction work will take less than a year to complete on schedule. Defence Minister Andris Sprūds (Progressives), however, is optimistic:

"Overall, we are moving according to plan, clearly, that is perhaps a certain challenge for the country as a whole, if we are talking that there are also certain constraints in the construction capacity. But that absolutely does not take away from us this responsible task that we are moving accordingly as we have planned, that by the end of 2025, beginning of 2026, the first phase of the Sēlija base will be completed."

Mobile communications are difficult in the vicinity of the base and new power lines are needed. And several roads need to be improved. The municipalities had hoped that the Ministry of Defense would help with the practical side.

"I have to say, when we spoke to the Ministry, it was more on their side - can the municipality also help with improving the roads and so on. Well, we would prefer the other way around - if it's heavy equipment that is coming, maybe they could help and fix these roads to that level," says Raivis Ragainis (AS), chairman of the Jēkabpils municipal council.

For now, in municipalities it is not entirely clear at what point and how much housing, kindergartens, schools and services will need to be developed.

Aizkraukle and Jēkabpils, for example, are currently planning the construction of rental housing, but at least for the time being, the army's demand for apartments is not calculated here.

An inter-ministerial working group has been set up to plan the development of the base, which also includes representatives of the municipalities of Jēkabpils and Aizkraukle. However, since its creation last autumn, it has only come together once.


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