Officials of different ministries met on Friday to discuss this year's efforts to modernize Estonia's eastern border. The project has recently faced difficulties as well as criticism after it turned out earlier this year that it won't be completed as planned, and cost more than twice as much.
Director-general of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), Elmar Vaher gave the officials an overview of the current status and intended action this year. Both PPA and the Ministry of Interior faced sharp criticism earlier on in the year after it became clear that the project would cost 2.5 times as much as planned.
Topics discussed in the meeting on Friday included the aims, tasks, and the form of work of the border construction project's leading group and supervision. According to Vaher, two test sections have been fully completed and passed inspection this spring, and the testing of the sections will follow.
Construction of the necessary electric network will continue this year, and the plan includes large-scale procurements and investments in the total amount of €17 million in 2018.
Vaher said that questions concerning the expansion of the border strip are still on the agenda, while negotiations with landowners are still ongoing as well. In addition, the development work of PPA's Kilp ("shield") information system as well as the construction of command posts will continue.
PPA is also planning to establish three radar positions along the Narva river, which will be used to guard the area along the border near Vasknarva, Punamäe, and Permisküla. Additional land was bought to make room for the radar positions and necessary infrastructure.
Preparation works for the radar stations are already underway, including getting the needed building permits. The construction of the corresponding towers and the necessary equipment will follow, including cameras and radar systems. PPA is hoping to complete this stage by early 2019.
The border regime area on Lake Peipus as well as other lakes on the border and the temporary control line will also be marked with spar buoys this year, and the location of buoys installed on the Narva reservoir will be corrected in order to prevent illegal border crossings. To this end, PPA is working with the Maritime Administration starting this month, depending on weather conditions.
In the near future, the installing of border posts in the area close to the border near the Narva River will be completed, which means that the entire Estonian-Russian border, with the exception of areas still to be exchanged, will be marked with border posts.
Following the cost and completion date issues discovered earlier this year, an audit of the project was carried out. The government will assess the efficiency of the technical surveillance and guard systems as well as the infrastructural concept at the end of May, with both the European Union's Frontex border agency as well as state real estate company RKAS to report on the project. In addition, an analysis of the border infrastructure construction project has been ordered from a foreign expert, expected to be completed in summer this year.
See related news below for more details on the border project's cost issues.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: BNS, ERR