Saimaa, Finland

Plans for Saimaa inland waterway development office

Representatives from different organizations in the regions, cities and ports around the Saimaa area have come up with a new plan - to establish a development office to strengthen the voice of inland waterway transport in Saimaa.

Since spring 2018, regions from East Finland together with cities, industry and stakeholders e.g. ports and operators, have gathered together to find a mutual solution for the future. Plans have now been finalized. The office should start in spring 2019 as a new project to develop Saimaa inland waterway transport, freight and cruise business.

Regions and stakeholders have now accepted the idea to start with a two-year-project and to finance it partly from the region’s ERDF funds. Work packages to support this cause have been written by the Regional Council of South Karelia with the support from the Regional Council of North Karelia, which is already a project partner in project EMMA. Already at an early stage, regions from South and North Savonia were contacted to get a mutual understanding and to build up a strong support for the project to build up the new office.

Decision-making process for financing this new project is now in the hands of regions, cities and industry. Every region, city and stakeholder from industry must now decide their support to finance this project to start. 

Goal is to set up a permanent office

The aim of the two-year-project is to set up a permanent office by regions as well as a yearly budget money collected as yearly fees from the stakeholders/beneficiaries. Many of the new tasks and ideas that this new office will be responsible for have come up during the EMMA project. One important aim is to secure the continuity of good results from EMMA project as well as raising public awareness.

During the EMMA project it has become clear that the support is needed from the all the regions and stakeholders to change the current IWT situation in the Lake Saimaa area. All participants share the same fear of losing this important transport mode if there will not be a strong voice also in the future to share the knowledge about the possibility to use IWT in supply chains around the Saimaa area.   

The goal is to improve the co-operation in the Saimaa area because there is huge potential to increase sustainable traffic and cargo volumes in Saimaa freight transport. However, a strong voice is needed to support, develop and orchestrate it.

EMMA project has been a true wake-up call for the Sleeping Beauty

Since year 2011, there has been a national development strategy for IWT in Saimaa. Already then there was a plan to build up a development office to bring stakeholders together and to have a common voice for stakeholders’ ideas and opinions.

In the previous years, the atmosphere and interest from the side of the government, regions and the industry has been low. Nowadays the situation is getting better, and these actors see the importance of developing this eco-friendly transport mode equally side by side with other transport modes.

This new project is getting support from all stakeholders around the Lake Saimaa area. Due to this support, the Regional Council of South Karelia has this autumn written the application for project to other regions around Saimaa area to co-finance a two-year project from ERDF to establish a Saimaa development office.

The mission for the development office is to be a trustee for the industry and raise the role of inland waterway traffic to be a part of the region’s business policy and transport planning. Another aim is to strengthen the work and the role of Saimaa Canal maintenance group and raise awareness towards the public of the good work that has been done.   

The development agency would have a task to ensure that fairways, the Saimaa Canal and the inland ports will in the future be a part of the core network, so they will not be left behind.     


Press contact: 

Jukka Hasu

Project coordinator, Regional Council of North Karelia

Tel: +358 50 3222 627