Before the meeting, the President flew in a helicopter over a number of facilities comprising transport infrastructure of the Southern Federal District and attended a ceremony commissioning a technological tunnel at the Sheskharis oil terminal.
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Speech at meeting on developing transport infrastructure in southern Russia
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today we will discuss a range of issues dealing with modernisation and development of transport infrastructure in the south of Russia and also look at some of the issues pertaining to the Crimean Peninsula.
We have just seen the transport facilities of the Kerch Strait. I would like to note that the ferry crossing is operating better. At least, there are no long queues we saw here last year. I would like to thank the Crimean authorities for organising work here.
As Mr Aksyonov [Head of the Crimean Republic] has just told me, yesterday, on August 19, they hit the 3-million passenger mark on the Strait. Two or three days ago, they reported reaching the 3-million mark at Simferopol airport. I would like to stress that this is only in 2015. Generally, this shows positive dynamics.
Of course, a lot remains to be done, primarily raising the quality of services provided at the crossing. People should feel comfortable. Special care should be given to elderly passengers, families with children and people with disabilities.
I would like the Government to support the Crimean Republic in this and other areas. Just like a few other areas, we will not discuss all that in detail today, but as far as road construction is concerned we should look for additional sources of funding. This particularly applies to road construction on the peninsula. Now over to other matters.
Obviously, in the next few years we will need to significantly modernise the ports and port infrastructure in southern Russia with due account of the cargos shipped across this country and the development of other ports, including those in the north and north-west of the country. I would like the Transportation Minister to focus on this in his report today.
The role of Russia’s ‘southern gateway’ in its foreign trade is increasing. In 2014, cargo turnover in the southern ports grew by almost 11 percent compared to 2013 to reach, together with the ports of Crimea, almost 200 million tonnes of cargo. This is almost a third of the total 624 million tonnes of cargo carried nationwide.
The load on the railways delivering cargos to the terminals and berths has grown accordingly. Last year they carried 8 percent more cargo that in the previous year, which is about 68 million tonnes in absolute figures.
Experts say the tendency towards greater passenger and cargo flows will continue in the coming years. Therefore, it is important to consistently strengthen and enhance transport potential of Russia’s south and first and foremost, increase the capacity of the ports and the supporting infrastructure.
An effective transport network will give a new impetus to the development of the southern territories and the country as a whole and will expand regional and international cooperation. It would stimulate the population’s mobility, which is very important for the economy in general, and would, of course, enhance Russia’s competitive edge and strengthen its position in the system of global transportation routes.
As you may remember, at our meeting in Novorossiysk last September, we set a number of priority measures for the development of the Azov – Black Sea region, and the measures are being implemented. Thus, Crimean seaports are being gradually integrated into Russia’s transport infrastructure and a number of railway sections are being modernised. In late April, we began building approaches to the bridge across the Kerch Strait.
Now it is important to determine the optimal infrastructure combination for each port in Russia’s south to avoid ‘bottlenecks’. We need to carefully calculate both the current and future load and develop both optimistic and conservative scenarios, taking into consideration all economic factors and business interests.
We will obviously not be able to implement our plans without modernising the access automobile and railway infrastructure, which is something we have discussed on several occasions. This is a priority task in this area through 2020, primarily the construction of bypasses for the Krasnodar railway terminal. We need to see how to best increase the capacity of the railway network and how to synchronise this work with the development of ports and road infrastructure. Let us consider this today as well.
It is also obvious that the Crimean seaports will only be able to operate properly when we build a bridge across the Kerch Strait. I expect the construction deadlines to be met. This strategic facility should be completed by the end of 2018.
The construction of the Kerch bridge and the overall development of the railway and other transport infrastructure in the south of Russia require significant investment. However, our budget capacity is limited, as usual – it is always limited everywhere. Therefore, we need to consider ways of encouraging additional investment and at the same time enhancing the investors’ responsibility in meeting their commitments, so the projects are not delayed, which would entail greater costs – we need to avoid this.
One last point. There has been no progress on such an important matter as the prevention of illegal exports of petroleum products during bunker loading. We have discussed this today with the Transport Minister and I have already issued some instructions. I would like the [Transport] Ministry to report on the implementation of these instructions.
Let us proceed to our discussion.