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Electronic queuing at border would solve problem of car lines – head of Customs Service

An electronic queue at the border would solve the problem of car lines, Raimonds Zukuls, State Revenue Service (VID) Deputy Director General for Customs and head of the Customs Administration, told LETA in an interview.

He said that the flow of trucks is mainly to Russia – in Grebneva an average of about 100 trucks cross the border per day, in Terehova 140-180 trucks, and at the Belarusian border in Paternieki – about 100.

Zukuls explained that all European hauliers come through Latvia, as there is a route to Moscow via Terehova and they are reluctant to go through Belarus. Therefore, freight carriers prefer to go via Terehova and wait in long queues. At the moment there are about 1,000 trucks waiting in the queue. Before the war, about 250-300 trucks a day could get through. Today it is 180 trucks.

“At the moment, the situation at the European Union (EU) external border is quite difficult everywhere. In Finland, the border crossings are closed altogether, and in Narva, too, only pedestrians are allowed to cross, which of course puts pressure on the other border crossing points. The Finnish border is closed, there are two customs checkpoints left in Estonia and two in Latvia – so the entire flow of border crossing to Russia is divided between these points,” said Zukuls.

He explained that on the Latvian side there are thorough controls, but there is also the other side – admission into Russia. “There are many cases where we have finished our work but the car is still waiting to be allowed into Russia. I suppose they are also doing more thorough checks. We have stopped any kind of communication with the Russian side since the war started. In a normal situation, if the two countries talk, if they cooperate, then the flow at the border is much smoother. We are doing our job, the Russian customs officials are doing theirs, and it is not as if we are discussing, coordinating or negotiating anything with each other. The situation is the same at the Belarusian border,” said Zukuls.

Asked whether it also happens that a truck leaves Latvia and is returned by Russia, Zukuls said that it does happen, but there are not many such cases. Zukuls also admits that Latvian customs return more vehicles than the Russian side. This may be due to a missing document, for example, the Russian side requires some kind of veterinary certificate, which was not needed in Latvia. This year, in four months, customs have returned 117 goods vehicles – about one per day.

Asked whether the 1,000 or so vehicles on the waiting list was now a constant figure, Zukuls said it was changing slightly. The record used to be 1,800 trucks.

“Clearly, we will not reduce controls and the traffic flow will not change much. It is not easy and the work is continuous, round the clock. At the moment, everyday life at customs checkpoints is quite harsh and difficult. The sanctions regime puts an extra burden on us, but it is a job that we have to do and we have to do it carefully,” said Zukuls.

Electronic queues are the solution, he said. An informative report prepared by the Ministry of Transport together with the State Border Guard Service, the Road Transport Directorate and the VID Customs Administration, which foresees the introduction of electronic queues, is currently being finalized.

“I hope the electronic queue will solve the problems. Then the driver will be able to wait for his turn where it is more convenient, for example, in Rezekne in a hotel resting, not on the roadside. We also want the situation to be resolved because it is not easy for our staff to work with drivers who are tired, angry and annoyed. Everyone understands that the electronic queue is necessary to keep the border crossing process civilized and orderly,” said Zukuls.

Asked when he hoped it would be introduced, Zukuls said the ideal promised date was the end of this year.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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