According to Minister of Transport Anu Vehviläinen (Centre Party), Finland is considering drastic measures to solve the traffic congestion problems on its eastern border.
“The most forcible measure is to limit the number of traffic permits issued to the Russians”, Vehviläinen said while presenting current transport policy matters in Helsinki on Wednesday.
For this year, 400,000 permits have been allocated to the Russian operators, but for the end-year they would need an additional 70,000 permits. One permit equals one trip across the border.
Only the number of additional permits that the border can handle would be issued to the Russians.
This would prevent the formation of truck queues on the roads in Eastern Finland. Such queues are particularly dangerous in the winter.
The regulating of the permits could continue next year all the way until the end of the winter season.
The Finns are particularly vexed by the fact that Russia prohibits car-carrying vehicles from using the Vaalimaa border crossing point.
Russia has suggested that the car transporters could be processed through this border crossing point on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only, but this proposal is not good enough for Finland.
“It won’t solve the problem”, Vehviläinen confirmed. “The eastern traffic has reached new heights. This year over a million cars will be transported to Russia.”
Negotiations were carried out on the issue on Wednesday, but no progress was made.
At the Hanko and Kotka harbours, the point of entry for a good many of the trucks and their cargos, the possibility of a permit boycott was not received well.
Director Paavo O. Lyytikäinen of the Port of Hanko estimates that even though a growing number of cars are being transported via rail, trains can hardly replace trucks.
Limitations to the use of trucks would “fairly soon” lead to problems and “the rest of the autumn would prove quite a challenge for the harbour”.
Limiting the number of permits allocated to the Russian operators might benefit the Finnish road transport companies, however.
“Even if the Russians run out of border-crossing permits, the Finns have plenty of them left”, points out Esa Näätänen, Legal Adviser and Head of the TIR Department from the Finnish Transport and Logistics SKAL.