In response to the harsh winter weather that continues to freeze Baltic waterways, the government has allocated an additional 3 million euros for this year's ice clearing work. Meanwhile, Economics Minister Juhan Parts is calling for the construction of a new icebreaker.
The government approved the increase in the annual ice clearing budget at its weekly meeting on February 3.
The two icebreakers that Estonia keeps in service, the Tarmo and the multi-purpose Eva-316, have been overwhelmed by this winter's conditions and were unable to keep up with demand. Reinforcements were called in for work along the northern coast, but not before several smaller vessels were left icebound.
Severe ice conditions around Estonia are expected to last another three to four weeks.
Parts said this winter has shown that Estonia needs an addition to its icebreaker fleet, uudised.err.ee reported.
"The situation on the Gulf of Finland is quite worrying. There is indeed one reserve vessel available for emergencies, but arrangements to use it depend on the needs of Finland and Seden," he said.
The minister said the decision to build a new icebreaker has been put on hold for years because of the high cost. He recommended, however, that the next government resolve the issue in the coming years.