The Slovak government announces the closure of one of the two locks in Gabcikovo for 9 hours a day from 28 September and for a period of 3.5 months (until 17 January 2021). This is despite the fact that the second lock has been under repair for some time and is therefore out of use.
Inland navigation, like road transport, operates 24 hours a day. As a result of this stagnation, inland navigation was disrupted in its operations. The ship simply has to pass through the lock to reach its destination. Inland navigation also wants to meet its obligations and be able to deliver its goods on time. EBU and the ESO have therefore made an effort to shorten the planned blockade, so that inland navigation can better meet its transport obligation.
Through the Gabcikovo locks, an average of about 40 to 50 vessels a day find their way to their destination near the Black Sea or in the opposite direction, to Germany or the Netherlands, for example. This number is, of course, subject to the economy and may or may not be affected by external circumstances such as Covid19.
Reaction of EBU and ESO
The EBU and the ESO therefore found this an unacceptable situation and sent a letter to the Slovak Minister of Transport in reply. In response, the Slovak Ministry of Transport proposed to set up a monitoring group and invited us to participate in it. A first meeting took place at the end of September.
Since then, weekly consultations and monitoring have led to a reduction in the daily working time from 9 to 8 hours without affecting the whole duration of the work. This means that the lock is still out of operation between 09.00 and 17.00 and on 7 days a week instead of 5 days. This is expected to shorten the period of 3.5 months from 17 January 2021 to mid-December, except in case of unforeseen weather conditions or technical problems. For the time being, we assume that the blockade can be completed before mid-December, just before the Christmas period.
Leny van Toorenburg & Theresia Hacksteiner
27 October 2020