Some water transport enthusiasts in Latvia have lately raised idea using river Daugava as inland waterway following the canal development trend in Western Europe. Daugava was an important trade route starting from Middle Ages to 1860ies - when an extensive railway network was built. The first goal of the project I remember was connecting the Baltic Sea with the Black sea; now - as Iunderstand form Mr. Uldis Pumpurs (sorry – in Latvian only) – the idea is to connect Vitebsk region in Belarus with Riga port. Initially I was very skeptical about this vision but doing a little research gave a little more credit for the project.
Finding the Freight
Vitebsk region is the flagship of Belarusian export and – according tosome sources – accounts for 68% of nation’s foreign trade. Petrol, electricity, sewing machines, TV sets, bricks, clothing, footwear, food and other goods are produced in the region. Water transport is very cheap, has big capacity and is rather slow. The main candidates for using boats are: timber, peat, construction materials and – already existing industry output – clothing, carpets, shoes and electronic devices. But here we come to a dead end – in Europe we can find territories already connected to ports and with resources of timber, peat and production if construction materials. Belarus is a country that tends to export goods with added value and smaller volume not raw materials. Maybe it is possible that the waterway could depend on manufacturing output at the beginning (less sensitive to transport costs) and gradually induce timber cutting, peat extraction, brick production and other freight that is very sensitive on transport costs.
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