Government: Eastern border infrastructure construction to continue

A border marker in Southeastern Estonia.
A border marker in Southeastern Estonia. Source: (Tauno Tõhk/Chancellery of the Riigikogu)

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) presented an alternative solution for the construction of further border infrastructure on Thursday, cutting back on some of the previously planned investments and making the project more affordable. The government decided to follow Helme's proposal.

The government also decided to allocate additional funding in the amount of €12 million for the construction of the land border, adding to the previous allocation of €79.9 million. New estimates put the total cost of construction at €130.5 million, some €57.5 million less than initially planned.

"The government reached a unanimous decision," Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said. "Construction will begin in the first half of next year." The prime minister added that the plan presented by the Ministry of the Interior and the Police and Border Guard Board will establish a secure border that makes it possible to detect, identify, and quickly respond to any violations.

"The new plan is based on adjusted calculations and clearer requirements without compromising on quality or security. With it, we stress efficiency and functionality," Ratas said.

Helme himself stressed that the revised project is not only cheaper, but also more effective, applying "modern technological tools" in the upcoming stages of construction.

The revised project won't include an animal barrier and sand strip. Also, the patrol road along the border in some sections will be built only to support light machinery instead of heavier off-road vehicles.

"Building the infrastructure is very important and a prerequisite for the establishment of a surveillance system. We are planning to make maximum use of the funds of the European Union to build the surveillance system," Helme said.

The Police and Border Guard Board announced the public tenders for the construction of a 23.5-kilometer section of the border earlier this year, which is the first phase of the border construction project. To date, €24.4 million out of the total €79.9 million allocated so far have been spent already.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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