TALLINN – On Thursday, construction companies Merko Ehitus Eesti and GRK Infra handed over a 23.5-kilometer section of completed structures on the Estonian-Russian border in Voru County to the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.
Under the contract signed between the Police and Border Guard Board and the two contractors in 2020, the 23.5-kilometer section from the point where the national borders of Estonia, Latvia and Russia meet to the border crossing of Luhamaa was to be completed by 2023. Favorable weather conditions and good construction works planning skills allowed the first phase to be completed a year earlier than planned, spokespeople for the Police and Border Guard Board said.
Egert Belitsev, head of the border guard department at the Police and Border Guard Board, described the completion of the first properly constructed border section as a significant milestone in the history of the Estonian state.
"We live in a time when border security is more important than ever. Last year, Belarus attacked our neighbors using thousands of migrants. This year, we are talking about nothing less than a large-scale war in Ukraine and actions and threats by Russia that were unthinkable a short time ago. Against the background of all that is going on, it cannot be underestimated that it is precisely the protection of the national border that, more broadly, is the starting point for the security of the rest of Estonia," the border guard chief said.
Ivo Volkov, chairman of the management board of Merko Ehitus Eesti, said the diverse and complex natural conditions in the area have put builders face to face with many engineering challenges in the construction of the border.
He said that completion of the works almost a year earlier than the deadline confirms not only the support of favorable weather conditions, but also very good cooperation with the customer, who has put their full mind to this project.
"Competent planning of construction time with a reasonable time reserve has made it possible to carry out the works at a fast pace and efficiently," Volkov said.
Also the cost of the works turned out to be lower by almost one million euros than the amount of up to 20 million euros earmarked for this purpose in the budget of the Police and Border Guard Board.
Construction work is already underway on the second section of the border, the contract for which was also won by a joint tender by AS Merko Ehitus Eesti and AS GRK Infra. In addition, a tender for the supply of monitoring equipment for the newly completed border section is underway and, barring any disruptions, it is hoped that the contract can be awarded to the winner already at the end of this year.