RIGA - A line of trucks 20 kilometers long has formed at the Terehova border check because of higher volume and a reluctance of truckers to drive through Belarus due to exorbitant costs.
National Border Guard chief Gunars Dabolins said that a line about 10 kilometers long of transport vehicles had formed in Grebneva, another crossing point on the Latvian-Russian border, and that in Terehova, some 800 vehicles were waiting to cross the border on Aug. 15. The number of vehicles lined up in Grebneva was about 500.
Dabolins said he personally inspected the situation on the border and that by Aug. 15 the "lines were moving at a normal pace."
"There have been no complaints from drivers, and there are also no double lines," he said.
The border guard chief said the congestion was caused by several factors. For one, many drivers refuse to drive through Belarus due to stricter transit rules and higher taxes, secondly trade between Russia and the EU has been rapidly growing. Reduced cargo transportation by rail also adds to traffic problems at border crossing points.
Dabolins added that the situation was further aggravated by increased security control at the border after a recent jailbreak in Latvia (see story Page 1).
He could not predict how long it would take to ease traffic congestion on the Latvian-Russian border, but indicated that "everything depends on Russia."
"We have talked to them, but they also have their own domestic problems 's for instance, employees are on vacation," he said.
He dismissed reports by Valdis Trezins, head of Latvijas Auto Trucking Association, who said several people had been seen approaching the lines of transport vehicles offering drivers to cross the border without waiting in line for 100 euros.
"Let Trezins come and see 's let him show these people," Dabolins said.
After meeting with Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, officials of the responsible services have pledged to restore order on the border with Russia within 48 hours and gradually reduce the lines of vehicles.