New Silk Road an opportunity for Podlachia

2021/07/05 at 5:33 PM

The logistics sector should join forces in activities aimed at redirecting the freight traffic to the territory of the Podlasie Voivodeship or simply Podlachia. Cooperation and synergy are of key importance, as time is running out and the competition is awake – these are the conclusions of the discussion panel “Podlasie Voivodeship on the New Silk Road” organised within the economic seminar “Railway to Poland – Railway to Podlachia”.

According to Russian data, about 570,000 TEU was transported on the China-Europe route last year. 90 per cent of which were accounted for the Brest – Terespol and the Małaszewicze junction. There are also smaller, side routes that range from 3 to 5 per cent, i.e. approximately 29,000 TEU, the volume of which will increase in the future.

A window to new possibilities

Dr Mariusz Dąbrowski, Director of the Investor Service and Economic Promotion Office of the Marshal’s Office of the Podlasie Voivodeship noted that a window to new opportunities has been opened in Podlachia (Podlasie). However, he drew attention to some infrastructural barriers that must be eliminated to take advantage of the opportunities for the region’s development.

Intermodal terminal in Chryzanów, source: Andrex Logistics

“As the Marshal’s Office, we try to promote our voivodeship, although there are also bottlenecks, many administrative issues, barriers that we have to overcome in order to use this window that has been opened for us. We must also pay attention to a very large investment between Białystok and Czyżew – track modernisation for about 1 billion euros, which will relieve Małaszewicze. The north-south connections are also important. The Rail Baltica link from the Baltic countries to the West through Podlasie Voivodeship and Via Carpatia (Białystok – Lublin – Rzeszów). If we overcome certain infrastructural barriers and if investments in the region start, we will use our chance. And we are aware that other regions, both of Poland and Europe, can take our potential place,” he assessed.

Business is ready

Dariusz Stefański, President of the Management Board of PCC Intermodal, noted that it is we who decide what and how can happen in business. In fact, this support for business is essential to continue supporting the regions. “I believe in the idea of a Polish logistics hub, but it can only be an initiative, just like the Belt and Road Initiative. However, each of us must do our part. We must consolidate these activities where we can work together,” he pointed out.

He admitted that the Podlasie Voivodeship with its two border crossings has a chance in a fairly short time to take over 10, maybe even 15 per cent of the total volume on the Far East – Europe routes and vice versa. And there will be something to fight for, as the volumes will be at the level of several million TEU.

“How we use this opportunity depends largely on how quickly we will implement basic infrastructure investments and how quickly logistics companies will be able to offer their services in the Podlasie Voivodeship. There is no doubt that there are a lot of companies from the logistics sector that know that today is the time for Podlachia and that it would be good to invest there today. The question from our side, from the business side, whether Podlasie is ready and whether Podlasie wants the logistics sector to anchor in this region for longer,” he wondered.

So far, PCC Intermodal has built three terminals in Poland and, as president Stefański pointed out, they have always had great support and commitment from local governments. There is no such involvement in Podlasie. “We are investing in Sokółka. We are convinced that this is a very good place to invest, but I must admit that this is the first time we meet with such large delays in its implementation. I am afraid that if such obstruction and delays continue in Podlasie, we will lose momentum for the region, and the volumes will run to Kaliningrad, Lithuania and Hungary. Business is ready to invest; the question is whether the region is ready to accept these investments,” he stressed.

There is enough space for everyone

Barbara Wójcik, Deputy Commercial Director at Adampol, emphasised that there is enough space for all entities interested in entering this market. Communication and synergy must be the basis. “For several years we have been observing the visits of the Chinese partners. They expected one entity with whom they could discuss all problems in general, and each terminal and each institution they visited spoke as if for their part. I have the impression that the Chinese side played a strong role in this, which is why it appeals to all who would like to join this business to unite in the dialogue,” she appealed.

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