Roland Peterson, an expert in logistics and transportation, expresses his views
Posted by Donald Hood on June 27th, 2018
1888PressRelease - Roland Peterson, an expert in logistics and transportation, expresses his views on the current state of the Latvian roads, as well as on the reasons for the existing problems with a view to finding constructive solutions to the various road issues.
The transport development has caused objective problems for traffic in cities around the world, including Latvia, and the reason for this is a rapid increase in the number of vehicles. Road congestion is the most urgent problem in a trip planning because it affects the total time of transportation and, therefore, costs that have a particular relevance to the logistics industry. The quality of the roads, a painful subject in the past, has a significant impact on transportation time. Without high-quality roads, it is impossible to improve the efficiency of transport, which, in the context of economic globalization, is said to be one of the main directions for the logistics development.
Promises against statistics
At the end of 2017, according to the report "Global Competitiveness Index", which was annually compiled by experts from the World Economic Forum, Latvia was not ranked among the top 100 countries of the world's rating. (out of 137 countries participating in the ranking, Latvia took 107th place, and Lithuania and Estonia took the 37th and 38th places) Despite this, VAS (State Roads of Latvia) announced that, despite the increase in traffic on Latvian roads, their quality has been improved in recent years.
EU assessment - Stable 3 points.
In 2017, 65.1 million euros were spent on the development of the national roads, including 32.3 million for the summer period works, and 32.8 million for the winter period works. In the same year, it was also planned to spend 37 million more, compared with the previous year. However, even these investments have not resulted in the average level of road quality in the European Union. According to the latest report, the average level in the EU is estimated at 4.76 points, Latvia, compared to that has been given 3.05 points.
The state of the roads not only hinders the development of the logistics industry but also contributes to the disproportionate level and the pace of social and economic development of the regions. The most remote regions of Latvia can develop tourism facilities, offer industrial premises for entrepreneurs, etc. however, if there is no road system to get to these cites, no results shall be expected.
Financing is eight times less than it needs to be.
"Requests for the organization of roads," "Road quality is catastrophic" - these headlines often appear in the mass media, while road maps try to reduce the existing damage by implementation of available sources, however, there is no sign of a significant improvement, when the funding is eight times less than it is necessary. At the same time, we make the mistake of struggling only with the consequences of the disease, when we need to identify the root of the problem and take the preventive measures.
One of the main problems that can be figured out now is the climate of the country, which in Latvia will not change significantly in the future, therefore, the problem will remain constant. The number of vehicles will also increase, so the question is: how to increase financing, which is the most important addition to the urgent issues. 130 million euros are required annually for maintenance and repair works of local and gravel roads but this amount cannot be provided only by EU funds. It is also completely unclear how the situation will look like in 2020, after the end of EU funding program.
Without the excise tax on fuel, there is no chance for survival
The fact that the change is expected in 2020, the spring of 2018 is said to be the moment to start an intensive work and stimulate actions - change existing arrangements related to the existing tax system (only a third of the tax, paid by road users, are redirected to roads). The time when it was possible to pull out a part of the income from tax has passed. Furthermore, we need to increase the number of public-private partnership projects in the sphere of the road construction, although this stage requires a proper preparation.
In addition to financing, other necessary support measures need to be introduced: dumping water from roads in certain areas, timely planning, more restrictive control on roads, etc.