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Statement by Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. Physical barrier on Lithuania-Belarus border

29-08-2022

Late last week, the final segments of the physical barrier were installed on the Lithuanian border with Belarus. The 4-meter-high and about 550-km-long barrier is expected to be instrumental in stopping the influx of irregular migrants to Lithuania. 

‘When the Government decided to build a physical barrier, I pointed out two important things: the project must be completed on time and on budget. I applaud the project promoters today for having completed the project on time and on budget. The physical barrier will certainly help the border guards to counter more effectively the illegal migration and the growing flows - yet again recorded on daily basis,’ said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. 

Company EPSO-G reported on Monday to the Prime Minister-led commission for the supervision of the project about the completion of all the planned sections along the state border. The finishing touches, including clearing of the construction sites and roads, and fixing the remaining insignificant deficiencies on the physical barrier, will continue into another two weeks or so. It will also include the inspection of the quality of works by a technical specialist, and the finalisation of the due paperwork. 

The physical barrier project was endorsed by the Cabinet back in August last year in response to the hybrid attack from the Belarusian regime involving flows of irregular migrants into the country. The Lithuanian army was the first to embark on the project (July 9, 2021) so as to intervene in the process and stop the relentless flow as early as possible. In five months, they built 60 km of the fence under the request of the Ministry of the Interior. The army also helped with the delivery of the barbed wire: a total of 1 990 rolls or about 31 km of army barbed wire was handed over to the State Border Guard Service (SBGS). 

The physical barrier fits all the requirements of the SBGS: there are concertina prisms and fence segments topped with concertina wire coils. The total height of the fence with the concertina coil is approximately 4 meters. 

453 km of new fence segments have been installed, 76 km of previous fence renovated, and 357 km of concertina prisms built. The overall physical barrier also counts 80 km of concertina barrier built in the summer and autumn of 2021 by the military and fire brigade mobilised by the Ministry of the Interior. 

The project runs to the budget, which is 152 million euros. The final amount of the funds used will transpire after the completion of the final works of the project, scheduled for October. 

The project has involved 65 designing and building companies mobilised by EPSO-G. A few dozen more companies provided accommodation, meals, and other services for the workers. 

At the peak of construction, more than 900 workers worked at the border with Belarus at a time. More than 150 pieces of equipment were used: bulldozers, excavators, turrets, forklifts, long booms, tractors, dump trucks, wheeled and crawler lifts, hydraulic manipulators. Amphibious vehicles had to be used to get through difficult border sections that were not accessible to four-wheelers and all-terrain vehicles. This is one of the largest construction projects in Lithuania in terms of the number of employees. 

The total length of the Lithuanian border with Belarus is 679 km. About 100 km of state border runs along the banks of rivers and lakes, with no physical barrier. 

The project supervision commission is headed by Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, and the commission includes the ministers of the interior, energy, national defence, environment and finance, the commander of the State Border Guard Service, the head of the State Territorial Planning and Construction Inspectorate under the Ministry of the Environment and a representative of the group pf companies EPSO-G.