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SRE: Deforestation hinders the pace of construction of the permanent fence on the Latvia-Belarus border


Delays in deforestation works, which are to be carried out by the Public Procurement Agency (NVA) in cooperation with JSC “Latvian State Forests” prior to construction, are the main reason why the pace of construction of the permanent fence on the Latvia-Belarus border cannot be significantly increased. According to the schedule, NVA had to complete the expropriation and deforestation works by the end of August, but in reality out of 85.8 km to be deforested during the first phase of the border construction, works have only been completed on a length of 72 km, informs Renārs Griškevičs, Chairman of the Board of the SJSC "State Real Estate" (SRE).

It is currently expected that the deforestation works delayed by the NVA could be completed by the end of November, with three of nine sections of the first phase now fully completed. Currently, construction works take place within the 63 km long section (taking into account the amount that is not deforested) and 17.5 km of the permanent fence have been built.

"We see that the threat from Belarus is only increasing, therefore the quick construction of the permanent fence and a modern border strip on the Latvia-Belarus border is of utmost importance for the security of our country. SRE has mobilised all available resources to reach the maximum fence construction speed of one kilometre per day already in the winter season, but it is impossible to work in an area that is not prepared. We look forward to the completion of the deforestation work - we are now seeing that the actual speed of the NVA work is significantly behind what was originally promised. We expect for the delayed works to be completed quickly, as delays of up to three months are currently being experienced in the construction of some sections due to late deforestation," explains Griškevičs.

In order to ensure the least possible delays in deforestation, SRE has repeatedly pointed out the problem and called for a solution in regular meetings of the working group together with NVA, JSC "Latvian State Forests" and the builder SIA "Citrus Solutions", but no significant progress has been made so far. Therefore, the risk increases for delays in construction of the fence and also costs can become bigger. The Ministry of the Interior has been informed about the current situation, and SRE has requested urgent mobilisation of work of the Public Procurement Agency and JSC “Latvian State Forests”.

In total, the project envisages the construction of a 173 km long Latvia–Belarus border strip. The first phase of the 85.9 km long fence will be completed by spring 2023, and the second phase - 63.9 km long - by spring 2024. Alongside designing and construction of the first two phases, also works for the third phase are underway - the procurement for the Daugava communication towers with access roads, as well as the development of the technical specification for the patrol roads.

Execution of the Eastern border construction project is supervised by the Monitoring Committee for the Construction of External Border Infrastructure, which consists of representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economics, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, State Border Guard, National Collateral Agency, SJSC “Latvian State Radio and Television Centre”, SJSC “State Real Estate”, JSC “Latvian State Forests”, Latvian Geospatial Information Agency and the National Armed Forces.

Up-to-date information about construction works on the Latvia–Belarus border can be found on the SRE website.

SRE successfully implements 44 projects of national importance, of which 24 are in the construction stage. The total implementation budget of the projects is more than 336 million euros. SRE provides professional real estate management and administration for approximately 352 real estate properties consisting of 1000 buildings with a total floor area of 0.95 million square metres, along with land beneath the buildings covering 607 hectares and more than 3460 land properties with an area of 907 hectares. SRE is one of 23 Latvian companies that has received the highest platinum award as part of the Sustainability Index of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, confirming the good governance and sustainability of its operations. The company was founded in 1996 and is 100% owned by the Ministry of Finance.