In early January, the list of goods that are prohibited to be transported in transit through Lithuania was extended. Now only medicines, food, fertilizers and humanitarian aid can be delivered by road to Kaliningrad. If we take as 100% the range of goods that were transported in transit before, this list will be a maximum of 10% of the previous volumes.
There is, of course, a ferry service from St. Petersburg. But of the 18 ships on the line, cars can only carry four. And then one got up for a long repair due to the lack of foreign equipment necessary for modernization. And the new railway-car ferries of the Turkish assembly are unfinished. During operation, it turned out that they are not suitable for heavy trucks: upon arrival on the upper deck, they are damaged.
Carriers estimate that ferries deliver ten times less cargo to Kaliningrad than is needed now. According to the Oboronlogistics group of companies, about 45 tons were transported during the last month of winter, while in January it was almost 73 tons. Due to the low capacity of ferries, road carriers are on the verge of bankruptcy, says Ilya Sviridov, director of Viabalt LLC:
“There is a big problem with ferries. Up to four ferries are declared in our direction, but two, probably, constantly go. At the same time, the military, the city, Vodokanal and other structures, of course, have priority when putting on the ferry. And the rest all fall on the residual principle. How this reservation is distributed is not clear. Even the agents themselves can’t explain. Everyone wants to work for us. We have almost 10 thousand trucks in the region. And on the ground passes three times less. Probably 90% of what could be transported is prohibited both to the Kaliningrad region and from the Kaliningrad region. Lithuanians are not allowed. If this situation does not change soon, we will have very high unemployment in the region.”
Carriers complain about the lack of a clear and transparent procedure for booking seats on ferry lines. Reservations are made irregularly, they have to update the site around the clock to catch a slot. The main problem is that it is not known in advance when access for registration and application is opened. And the session itself can last both 30 minutes and 5 minutes. One gets the impression that the registration works according to the scheme “who did not have time, he was late.”
Carriers who did not have time to book a place on the ferry agree to carry the goods to Kaliningrad on their own transport for 40-60 thousand rubles. For comparison: from Moscow to St. Petersburg, where the distance is half as much and there are no borders, it costs about 50 thousand rubles. Carriers also talk about the so-called shadow business – the resale of the queue for the ferry. Igor Khvesyuk, CEO of the local company DFDS Logistics Vostok, talks about the difficulties that arise when booking:
“The limit of patience was that on the website of the St. Petersburg ferry line operator, bookings were closed from July 27 due to lack of places. Back in the summer, I was offered a staging on the ferry in a month and a half. Then this queue increased to three months. The main problem now is that it is impossible to enroll there. At the same time, ferries run, they carry something, you go to their pages, they write that there are no empty seats. There is information that outbid for a lot of money. This information is voiced on our transport websites and forums. Rumor has it that more than 100 thousand rubles are taken for the reservation. Personally, I have been writing letters since July. From the government, I only get a reply: “We are doing well.” Who has “us”? According to the work of my enterprise, I see that I am heading for bankruptcy. I have nothing to pay people’s salaries. I can’t send cars on a flight.”
The business says it has been sending messages to the governor and the federal government since the fall. But he gets the same answer: this is not necessary. Or more formally: the solution of problems is beyond the powers of specific executive authorities – or simply inappropriate.
To support business, the regional authorities proposed to introduce subsidies for the payment of transport tax for transport companies. However, in order to qualify for these subsidies, it is necessary to pass a special selection, while guaranteeing the preservation of jobs and the continuation of activities until at least December 31 of this year.