Ever since the private Euroterminal at Odessa Port came into existence in 2011, it has unsurprisingly been the source of many a nefarious scam and scheme – which is to be entirely expected when the usual nefarious criminality is associated with being among the ultimate beneficiaries (Angert, Trukhanov, Yanukovych, then latterly post 2014 Yatseniuk via Anatoly Amelin etc) – how else would it have come to exist and function?
The schemes and scams are too numerous to list and explain in a short blog entry, however it is sufficient to say that since becoming operational, nothing occurs without an illicit fee and graft of some sort.
Of note to this entry is the simple extortion scam relating to the entry and egress route from the port complex – for so designed was the Euroterminal enterprise scam that it forced all entering and exiting to cross the territory of the privately owned Euroterminal – for which fees were put in place.
Fees of Euro 55 simply to open a barrier – per vehicle – were commonplace. Not an insignificant return for approximately 3000 vehicles per day.
Thus many, many UAH millions each year were generated from this scam alone – and there were/are many similar scams relating to parking, expedited clearance, weigh bridges etc. Some serious criminal thought went into scheming and scamming from every activity before the enterprise became operational.
Needless to say, with the change of power in 2014, a change to some end beneficiaries occurred, but the scams remained in place – enabled and actively participated in by State institutions as before.
To be entirely fair to former-Governor Saakashvili, he did manage to roll this particular scheme back – briefly – but as has been said many times in the blog, the only way to deal with corruption in Odessa is to first tackle the ports. Failure to do so makes little dent in the corruption profile of the city otherwise.
It also goes without saying that since 2011, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the Anti-Monopoly Committee, the Prosecutor’s Office and City Hall have done very little to tackle what is in effect a deliberately engineered extortion racket, even with something as obvious as entry and egress of Odessa Port. The reasons for inaction should require no explanation.
That is, perhaps until now.
There is an inherent problem with forcing all port traffic through one revenue generating barrier that simply cannot be hidden or denied – and that is traffic congestion.
Traffic congestion is a particularly problematic issue in Odessa, and even more prominently so when the City is attempting to get funds from the World Bank to solve such issues. It doesn’t pay to under-sell the issue at hand when wrangling for money.
Unfortunately for those atop City Hall, The World Bank has a habit of requiring due diligence, surveys, studies, plans, frameworks and all those other annoying technical things that would clearly bring to light the traffic issues in Odessa caused by the UAH multi-million extortion racket when funneling all port traffic through Euroterminal – from which some atop City Hall are beneficiaries.
Lo, it has thus come to pass that the “Sustainable mobility for Odessa” project between the World Bank and the Department for Transport, Communications and Traffic Management of Odessa City Hall has indeed noted this as a major problem – for it couldn’t be ignored.
Solving this particular traffic problem would be a priority area for investment.
The most effective answer is to build a new road and entry point into the port bypassing (much of ) the city and thus the Euroterminal entrance and extortion racket – which will not sit well with those beneficiaries (and partners) atop City Hall, organsied criminality, or with certain current beneficiaries in Kyiv either.
Thus Euroterminal have muted the idea of reducing the “fees” for lifting a barrier to cross its territory over the next 5 years, and also building a new road – which should naturally be dismissed as an attempt to kick matters into the long grass while desperate methods to sabotage any such change to the existing scam are found, or ways to create new ones are found on or around any new port infrastructure.
However the World Bank is not about to be complicit in expanding such an obvious extortion racket, and thus eventually the central authorities have been forced to be seen to act. An investigation by the Anti-Monopoly Committee into Euroterminal’s abuse of its position is under way (6 years after that abuse began) and almost complete.
It will be interesting to see whether the Anti-monopoly Committee actually decides to take on some very powerful vested and criminal interests that sit behind Euroterminal – and if it does, just what