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The digging of the Vistula Spit and questions about the economic revival of Elbląg

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The topic of digging the Vistula Spit seems to have been forgotten after the grand opening. Maybe the tourist season will bring a revival. It is worth recalling that the ditch was supposed to contribute to the economic revival of Elbląg. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.

There was a grand opening, big plans for huge money, but so far it’s a dead season. The ditch of the Vistula Spit was opened on September 17, and within six months a little over five hundred and seventy

– It is a problem that from the beginning this investment was built not for economic reasons, they were not the basis for the construction of this ditch – said prof. Włodzimierz Rydzkowski from the University of Gdańsk.

The Vistula Spit (photo from September 2021)press material NDI

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There is no background

The fact is that autumn and winter are times of stagnation in tourism, which could have contributed to the lack of traffic on the Vistula Lagoon, which is also confirmed by websites tracking ship traffic. There was no crowd on the Lagoon today, but the tourist aspect of this investment was to be only an addition. The main goal of the two-billion investment was the economic revival of Elbląg and the region.

– In terms of reloading or the development of passenger tourism, it did not bring any change – said Arkadiusz Zgliński, director of the board of the Port of Elbląg.

The opening of the ditch is only the beginning, now it is crucial to deepen the fairways. Without this, only vessels with a small draft, slightly over two meters, can reach the port of Elbląg.

Opening of a shipping channel through the Vistula SpitAP/Adam Warżawa

– What the port of Elbląg cares about the most is ensuring the waterway in all its accessibility, and above all deepening the waterways, so that the vessels that are planned in the long-term plan can reach us – said Arkadiusz Zgliński.

A dispute over money

And here a problem arises, because there is still a dispute between the city of Elbląg and the government over who will pay for the deepening of the key section of the river. – The investment is planned, its completion 900 meters before the port of Elbląg, and the ships do not fly, do not jump, so they will not reach the port quays – explained Jerzy Wcisły, senator AFTER.

It’s about those few hundred meters that, according to the city authorities, are the responsibility of the government. – This is the task of the State Treasury, the government and it should be done by the Maritime Office, and I do not know why they are not trying to transfer this task to the local government – said some time ago the president of Elbląg, Witold Wróblewski.

The Vistula Spit (photo from September 2021)press material NDI

There is a proposal on the table, but according to the PO senator, it is unacceptable.

– The government says: we will give you 100 million, you will finish the investment, and if there is anything left, we will leave it for the development of the port. The problem is that these 900 meters will cost about PLN 70 million, plus the turntable PLN 20 million, so there is nothing to fight for. This is a proposal to give the port away for free – assessed the PO senator.

Digging problems

The point is that the ditch of the Mierzeja should cease to be only a tourist attraction of the region and allow the city to sail into wide waters.

– We already have reports of vessels that could enter the port of Elbląg, whose length is just under 100 meters and the draft is 3.6 meters deep. This translates into cargo, under current conditions 1000 tons per unit, under new conditions it will be 3.5 to 4000 tons at a time – said Arkadiusz Zgliński.

According to the port authorities, there will be plenty of shipowners and vessels willing to use the services of the smaller port in Elbląg, but according to Professor Rydzkowski, it is not so obvious.

– Inland navigation does not exist in Poland physically, there are some survivors. It’s not going to happen that these charges will magically appear. That is the problem, he said.

However, so far there is an impasse and there is no chance to resolve this dispute in the near future, and such vessels as, for example, ORP Albatros, which sailed through the ditch on March 21, cannot sail any further.

Author:Katarzyna Rosiewicz

Main photo source: NDI/BESIX press materials

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