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Residents of Riga and the Port outline a common vision for the future

The Port of Riga is an integral part of the city. Territorially, it covers around a fifth of the total area of Riga. To find a balance between development of the Port and the interests of the city’s residents and businesses, it is crucial to encourage an open dialogue and a mutual exchange of information and interests. Therefore, in the beginning of November local and international experts from various industries and socially active residents of Riga gathered at the conference The Citizen of Riga and the Port, organised by Riga’s city architect, to become acquainted with the visions for the development of the Port of Riga, look at world examples and exchange views on the future interaction of Riga city and the Port.

“In recent years, relations between the Port and residents of the city have significantly improved,” reveal the organisers of the forum. “If issues that are crucially important for residents are addressed and resolved, a normal coexistence takes place, which is a common hope of the residents and businesses of the Port alike,” according to Gvido Princis, the city architect of Riga.

Currently, the most important issue for the Freeport of Riga Authority is to find ways to relieve the centre of Riga of coal cargoes. As the infrastructure project of Krievu Island is already in its final stage, now the focus is on how to further develop the Port, considering its interaction with the environment and the city. “The work on the Freeport of Riga Development Programme for 2019–2028 is almost finished and we plan to submit it for confirmation shortly. We are purposefully changing the philosophy of our work – the Port of Riga must become more open towards society, it must serve the interests of both the city and the state and at the same time continue the mission it has been fulfilling for centuries – to support the economy of the city and the whole country,” says CEO of the Freeport of Riga Ansis Zeltiņš.

The vision of the Freeport of Riga for the next decade aims at developing the Port into a ‘smart’ logistic centre with services and factories of high added value. Whether the Port of Riga is a suitable and beneficial place for production development was a question discussed by the experts, city planners and representatives of the citizens at the conference. The goal of the discussion was to achieve a balance between business development in the Port of Riga and the interests of residents and businesses.

Water, which occupies two thirds of the total area of the port, is a potential that is not sufficiently exploited in Riga. “Water is an available resource in Riga, which we do not use and sometimes don’t even know how to use. This situation stems from the years of the Iron Curtain, when the Port was closed and use of the coastline in Riga was prohibited. Such physical division of the Port over the decades has degraded the perception of Riga as being a port city, even by the inhabitants themselves. The tradition of using the public harbour in the daily lives of city dwellers has also disappeared,” reveals Princis.

The Port must develop into a place which offers not only jobs, but also educational and recreational opportunities for its residents, and water may become a part of the city’s transportation system. For example, a ferry line that would connect Bolderāja and Vecmīlgrāvis may significantly contribute to the development of the northern part of the city. Together, on both sides of the Daugava River, live around 50 thousand inhabitants. Many production companies and a large number of workplaces are situated here, thus possessing the potential for economic synergy between the two neighbourhoods.