Estonia's southeastern border crossings, Luhamaa and Koidula, are expecting to see more traffic this year after the crossing at Narva closed for renovation. Queues are already forming.
While all was calm at Luhamaa on Friday, the online GoSwift booking system to cross the border filled up quickly. Queues for commercial vehicles are already more than two weeks long.
The consequences of closing the Narva border crossing to cars are already becoming clear, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.
Driver Vadim Tširkov was one of those redirected with his goods to Luhamaa.
"It is a pity, of course, that the border was closed. Now you have to do extra kilometers and extra time, and it's all going to cost more now, I think. We will do our job as usual. We live in our cars, this is our home, our apartment," he said.
At the moment, more than 300 cars have booked a time online to cross the border at Koidula and Luhamaa border points. The first free spot is more than two weeks away.
"At the moment, the Russian side of the border is still a brake, so to speak, and our ability to let cars through and control them is greater. In that respect, yes, at the moment we can still cope, but if this intensity increases significantly, we will review our resource needs and react flexibly," Toomas Huik, head of the Luhamaa customs office of the Tax and Customs Board, said.
The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is also ready to send additional help if needed.
"But in reality, we do not see a very big increase in the burden. Even if all Narva's transport traffic comes to Koidula and Luhamaa, with our current human resources, we will be able to cope with this traffic very well," confirmed Peter Maran, head of PPA's southeast border point.
But Luhamaa is not the only one facing the consequences of closing the Narva border crossing.
"When Finland closed its border crossing points, trucks with Finnish registration plates came to our border crossing points, which had not happened before. Russian citizens with Finnish residence permits also came to cross the border. We also have Finnish citizens crossing now. These were profiles that were alien to us, but which are now rather commonplace," said Maran.
The Narva crossing will be closed until the end of the year and only pedestrians will be able to cross. Russia has said it is renovating its border in Ivangorod.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera