Former head of the Association of Seaports of Ukraine advises against E40 waterway

The Government of Ukraine have approved the ‘Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Transport Strategy until 2030’, which includes the development of the E40 waterway. The ‘Transport Strategy’ serves as a guidance document for the development of the Ukrainian transport sector. According to the ‘action plan’, the Ministry of Infrastructure as well as the state enterprises ‘Administration of Seaports of Ukraine’ and ‘Ukrvodshlyakh‘ are responsible for implementing the E40 waterway project. This massive infrastructure project would result in an environmental catastrophe for Europe’s largest wetland wilderness, Polesia.

The former head of the Association of Seaports of Ukraine, Dmytro Petrenko, states on Facebook and on his blog that the ‘transport plan’ of the Ukrainian government is neither ecologically nor economically viable. In his opinion, the strategy is not adapted to today’s realities and there is absolutely no advantage for Ukraine to construct the E40 waterway.

‘For some reason, according to the head of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ukraine should not be engaged in repairing critically worn-out navigable locks, but in the development of the E-40 waterway project, which now benefits only one country – Belarus,’

states Dmytro Petrenko.

Electric rail potential overlooked 

In addition, the plan pays little attention to the development of electrified railways as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. 

‘The European Union is pursuing the development of high-speed railways, which should replace air transport, and the goal is to reduce carbon emissions. The Ministry of Infrastructure emphasizes that by 2023 UZ-Ukrzaliznytsia (National railway company) has to buy 10 high-speed electric trains at its own expense, although this is an unrealistic task, as it is an investment of more than 10 billion hryvnias, which UZ does not have. Instead, the state plans to spend the same 10 billion hryvnias on resuscitation of regional airports,’

mentions Petrenko.

The Save Polesia coalition also urges national governments to invest in electric rail instead of the construction of the E40 waterway. The transport of goods using the E40 waterway would be slower, more expensive, more polluting, and less reliable than electric rail. Therefore, construction of the E40 waterway makes no sense. To meet trading needs, governments should instead modernise border crossings, increase train capacities and speed, and improve logistics infrastructure to handle cross-border trade.  

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*Top photo is taken in the Turovsky meadow reserve in Belarus © Maryia Gulina