Road Administration looking for operator for small island ferry lines

Passenger ferry Kihnu Virve.
Passenger ferry Kihnu Virve. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The Road Administration (Maanteeamet) is looking for an operator for the Kihnu, Vormsi and Sõru-Triigi ferry lines.

On Tuesday, the representatives of TS Laevad and Tuule Liinid got onboard the passenger ferry Kihnu Virve to familiarize themselves with the vessel. Similar ferries Ormsö and Soela operate the Vormsi and Sõru-Triigi routes, which is why a single operator is sought for the three routes. It is currently operated by Kihnu Veeteed, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reports.

"There are three companies in Estonia able and willing to provide this service. Large players Tallink and Eckerö Line are not interested in it," said Mika Männik, leading expert at the road administration's public transport department.

Saarte Liinid is, however, seeking for an additional guarantee from Tuule Liinid. "It has been until recently connected to a group named Tuule Grupp, which includes Saaremaa Laevakompanii, Väinamere Liinid and many other companies. These enterprises have finished their cooperation with us, but left with a great amount of debts," manager of Saarte Liinid Villu Vatsfeld told ERR.

"Key figure at Tuule Liinid Tõnis Rihvk has signed contracts with debtors and made oral commitments, none of which he unfortunately kept," Vatsfeld added.

"Tuule Liinid doesn't have any debts, it has a new owner. One man just ran out of steam, thinking that his name and face will interfere with the progress. I had two options - whether to quit and bow out after 28 years in shipping, or continue," Rihvk said.

CEO of Kihnu Veeteed Andres Laasma is also critical of the participation of Tuule Liinid. "The limited liability company Tuule Liinid has previously been connected to both Saaremaa Laevakompanii and Holostovi Kinnisvara and simple change in ownership unties it formally so they could take part in public procurements," Laasma said.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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