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Federal structures propose to close two of the eight existing border crossings in the Khabarovsk Territory.
The border department of the FSB of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region and the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office sent requests to the government of the Khabarovsk Territory about the further functioning of the sea checkpoints in Okhotsk and Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. The departments have complaints about the equipment of the crossings and their loading. The authorities of the region intend to resist the initiative of the federals.
You can cross the border in the Khabarovsk Territory at eight checkpoints - among them there are one-way and work in two directions, there are purely cargo ones, and there are also cargo-passenger ones. And now two at once - that is, a quarter of the total - are proposed to the regional government to close. The initiative was taken by the border guards - last year they sent a request to the regional authorities "On considering the possibility of further functioning of checkpoints in Okhotsk and Nikolaevsk-on-Amur." In August 2021, the position of the border guards was supported by the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office. The information sent to the Acting Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory states: “Seasonal checkpoints across the State border of the Russian Federation in the city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur and the village of Okhotsk of the Khabarovsk Territory do not meet“ Standard requirements for equipment and technical equipment of buildings, premises and structures required for the organization of border, customs and other types of control "approved by the order of Rosgranitsa dated October 27.10.2010, XNUMX, since they do not have buildings or structures to accommodate customs, border and other regulatory authorities and the necessary equipment."
On the one hand, Alexander Zhelezovsky, head of the sector for interaction with border authorities of the department for interaction with military structures of the apparatus of the governor and the government of the Khabarovsk Territory, admits that none of the existing checkpoints in the region meets the requirements. If only because they were built before these very requirements appeared. There is only one exception in the region - one of the sections of the checkpoint in the port of Vanino - where the crossing is divided into five sections - but not the entire crossing. On the other hand, work is underway at almost all checkpoints to bring them up to meet the requirements. However, the border crossings in Okhotsk and Nikolaevsk-on-Amur stand out for their low workload and extremely poor equipment.
“Nikolaev-on-Amur sea checkpoint carries out state border control at the berths and in the roadstead. The main cargo is timber exported to Japan, China, South Korea, - explains Alexander Zhelezovsky, - at the end of navigation, the infrastructure of the crossing is closed, although we can say that there is no infrastructure as such at the checkpoints that Nikolaevsk-on-Amur and Okhotsk. In Okhotsk, state control is exercised at two roadstead sites. And in principle, this is enough. Ships do not need to go far, especially in Okhotsk, the depths do not allow ships to get up at the berths - in the seaport of Okhotsk. There are berths, but the depths do not allow ships to get up at the berths so that state border control can be carried out. "
The infrastructure issue can still be resolved - in Okhotsk, local fishermen offer to do this at their own expense. “We - fishermen and industrialists - are ready to financially participate in the arrangement of the checkpoint, - says Olga Bulkova, chairman of the union of fishing cooperatives-collective farms of the Khabarovsk Territory“ Krayrybakkolkhosoyuz ”- to the point of supplying modular structures that meet legal requirements. But this will not solve the existing problem - in terms of depth, not all vessels can approach and load, unload in the port of Okhotsk. The draft of the vessels is 3 meters 20 centimeters, and the products, which are issued for export, are loaded onto large-tonnage vessels with a draft of more than five meters. Therefore, ships are loaded at the roadstead and go through all customs and border procedures right at the roadstead. That is, even if we equip the checkpoint, the ships will not be able to approach the berths ”.
In Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, the arrangement of the border crossing is also not an insoluble problem. “I spoke the other day with the management of the seaport, - says Oleg Korzhov, deputy head of the administration of the Nikolaev municipal district for economics and investment policy, - they reported that they had corrected all the remarks that were made by the border service. The problem is rather that there are no ships. This is where the problem is!".
Low workload is the main reason for the closure of checkpoints. The certificate provided by the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office says that “The volume of exports and imports of goods transported through these checkpoints has been decreasing since 2011. If in 2019 at the point of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur it amounted to 20,2 thousand tons of cargo, then in 2020 it decreased to 3 thousand tons (2 ships were accepted). In 2018, 73,9 thousand tons of cargo were handled at the Okhotsk checkpoint, and 2020 thousand tons in 2,6 (3 vessels were accepted). "
The pandemic of coronavirus infection and low salmon catches in the Amur, which exporters-investors in the Nikolaevsky district hoped for, made their adjustments to the already low workload of ports. However, the situation will improve sooner or later, according to the regional authorities, local officials and business representatives.
“The government of the Khabarovsk Territory is categorically against the closure and is extremely interested in the functioning of the sea checkpoints Nikolaevsk-on-Amur and Okhotsk, - says the head of the sector for interaction with border agencies of the department for interaction with military structures of the apparatus of the governor and the government of the Khabarovsk Territory, Alexander Zhelezovsky, - they create preconditions for the socio-economic development of the Nikolaev and Okhotsk municipal districts. In the plans for infrastructural and socio-economic development of the Nikolaev municipal district, it is noted that the checkpoint is one of the significant existing transport infrastructure facilities that can be used for the functioning of the Nikolaevsk ASEZ. Moreover, it is worth paying attention to the fact that the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation has laid a roadmap for the unification of inactive ports into single ports on the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory - we have Vanino and Sovetskaya Gavan, Nikolaevsk-on-Amur and Okhotsk, De-Kastri and Cape Lazarev. But only after the unification of the ports of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur and Okhotsk it will be possible to discuss this issue in detail once again ”.
“There is some illogicality in the situation,” confirms Viktor Kalashnikov, Minister of Economic Development of the Khabarovsk Territory. The regional government cannot agree with this ”.
The closure of the checkpoint will worsen the economic situation in the Okhotsk region. Fishing and processing industries are concentrated here, aimed at exporting products to Japan and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Olga Bulkova emphasized in an interview with the EastRussia correspondent that if the checkpoint is still closed, the ships carrying export cargo will be forced to register it in other ports, which means the complication of logistics, increased costs, increased timelines, which can ultimately make Okhotsk unattractive for fishing investors. In addition, when the volume of cargo transshipment increases after the lifting of pandemic restrictions, opening the checkpoint will require significant efforts, which can be saved by simply not closing it. “If the question is about the economic inexpediency of maintaining the Okhotsk checkpoint throughout the year,” says Olga Bulkova, “then it can be made seasonal. The legislation allows it. Then the border guards could come, as the customs authorities are already doing now, on business trips and leave the ships directly from the plane, which need to go through all the necessary procedures to go abroad. "
The fate of the checkpoints has not yet been determined. On September 22, a commission of the Interdepartmental Coordination Council under the Government of the Khabarovsk Territory arrives in the Okhotsk District on the implementation of the state border policy of the Russian Federation. Its participants personally inspect the state of the port, and the conditions in which border clearance takes place. Their decision will largely determine in which direction the situation will unfold.