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53% increase at Storskog

Numbers of border-crossers from Russia to Norway continue to peak.

16.021 border-crossings were counted at the Norwegian – Russian border in April. That is a 53% percent increase compared with April 2010, according to the statistics published by the Norwegian police district in Eastern Finnmark.

During the first four months of 2011, a total of 54.879 border crossings were counted.

The Norwegian border station at Storskog is not dimensioned to handle the amount of people that are arriving or departing. Especially on Saturdays, the queues of cars outside and people lining up in from of the documents control windows are chaotic.

A fast-working group lead by the police presented in March an urgent action-plan on how to tackle the huge increase in border crossings, as previously reported by BarentsObserver. More personnel, new lanes for vehicles, more passport control windows and other suggestions that could be implemented during the remaining months of 2011 were included in the plan, estimated to cost some NOK 23 million (?2,93).

Speaking at a business conference in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes in February Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said urgent upgrades where needed at Storskog to tackle the increase in border crossings. But, the Government did not follow the words of Støre, when the revised state budget was presented last Friday. Not one single krone was granted to Storskog, BarentsObserver reported.

 - I am terribly disappointed. And really more than that, says Linda Beate Randal, Mayor in the border municipality Sør-Varanger.

- For me this is completely incomprehensible, she says to Finnmarken comenting on the lack of funding to increase the capacity at Storskog.

Text: Thomas Nilsen


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