Closures, checks, Orthodox Easter behind longer lines on Lithuanian-Belarusian border

  • 2024-04-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The closer of two checkpoints in March, stepped-up checks on goods transported to Russia and Belarus, seasonal factors, additional permits for carriers from Central Asian countries, Orthodox Easter, and other factors are behind the recent increase in truck lines on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, people in the sector have told BNS.

"Customs officers are checking all trucks very carefully, including scans, document checks etc. And those checks really take as long as it takes, and it takes a long time. It takes a couple of minutes for border guards to check documents, and customs officers, their procedures, of course, need more time," Giedrius Misutis, spokesman for the State Border Guard Service, told BNS. 

In his words, the recent high traffic flows are due to the increased customs checks because of the existing international sanctions against Russia and Belarus, as well as the because of the upcoming Orthodox Easter, which falls on May 5 this year.

"It is hard to expect that things will get better hen we have only remaining two border checkpoints that let cars through," Vytautas Milenas, secretary general of Linava, the national road carriers' association, told BNS.

He does not rule out that truck lines on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border may have increased due to problems in Latvia and Poland as they have only one checkpoint each on their border with Belarus. 

Juliya Samorokovskaja, spokesperson for the Vilnius County Police, told BNS that some 90 police calls have been received from the Salcininkai border checkpoint since March 1 and 53 have been received from, and about a third of them had to do with conflicts between drivers trying to bypass the line in violation of traffic rules or entering the oncoming traffic.

According to Misutis, there were about 930 trucks and some 260 passenger cars waiting at Medininkai at 8 a.m. on Monday, and there 780 trucks and about 150 cars at Medininkai.

Long lines remain on the Belarusian side as well as some 760 trucks and 120 cars were waiting on Monday at the Medininkai-Kamenny Log checkpoint on Monday morning, and there were some 530 trucks and 80 cars at Salcininkai-Benyakoni.

Lithuania closed its Lavoriskes and Raigardas border checkpoints on the Belarusian border on March 1, having closed the Sumskas and Tverecius checkpoints in the summer of 2023. Medininkai and Salcininkai now remain the only open checkpoints on the Belarusian border.