Võru County, Piusa border guard station, 30 August 2019
Yesterday, at a cabinet meeting, Mart Helme, Minister of the Interior, presented an alternative solution for building the eastern border, and the government decided to support the solution which would cut infrastructure components and make the project construction project more affordable.
The government also decided, on the basis of the solution presented yesterday, to allocate additional funding of 12 million euros for the construction of the land border, in addition to the previous allocation of 79.9 million euros. According to new estimates, the cost of building the eastern border is 130.5 million euros, which is 57.5 million euros cheaper than the previous project.
“The government reached a unanimous decision to build the eastern border on the basis of the project submitted to the cabinet, and construction will begin in the first half of next year,” said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. He added that the plan presented by the Ministry of the Interior and the Police and Border Guard Board would establish a secure border which would enable to detect, identify, and respond quickly to any border violations. “The new plan is based on adjusted calculations and clearer requirements without compromising the quality or security of the border. We emphasise efficiency and functionality,” added Ratas.
“With the government, we chose a cheaper but also effective option instead of the current project. This enables to implement modern technological tools in the next stages of border construction,” said Minister of the Interior Mart Helme. He added that the upgraded project would not include an animal barrier and a sand strip; in addition, the patrol road will be constructed in some sections only to support light machinery instead of heavy off-road vehicles. “Building the infrastructure is very important – it is a prerequisite for establishing a surveillance system. We plan to make maximum use of the funds of the European Union to build the surveillance system,” said Helme.
Helme added that the technology used at the border must be up to date to be effective. “We will install surveillance equipment – cameras, drones, and drone detection systems – at the border when the infrastructure is ready. The construction of border infrastructure, fences, and roads will take several years. By scheduling the acquisition of monitoring equipment to take place at the end of the construction, we will be able to install more modern technology in the future,” explained the minister of the interior.
This January, the Police and Border Guard Board announced the public procurement for the construction of a 23.5-kilometre section of the border, the first phase of the border construction project. The section will be constructed upwards from the tripoint of Estonian, Latvian, and Russian borders. The public procurement will take into account the changes resulting from today’s government decision and the results will be known by the end of the year. If the procurement succeeds, the construction of the 23.5-kilometre section will begin in the first half of next year. The infrastructure for the land border will be built in four stages.
To date, 24.4 million of the 79.9 million euros have been spent. The money has been used for establishing three new surveillance positions on River Narva in 2016–2019, acquiring floating signs on Lake Peipus, designing the land border, and establishing experimental sections.