Inaugurating the canal, President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party Jaroslaw Kaczyński said it would “give Poland full sovereignty in the region in the north of the country. Thanks to it, Polish ships will be able to avoid the Russian canal”. The 60-kilometer-long eastern part of the Vistula Spit, where the only canal from the Baltic Sea to the Vistula Bay was located, belongs to Russia’s Kaliningrad region, and Polish ships cannot pass through it without Russian consent.
A quarter to two billion
The canal being built across the Vistula Spit in the years 2019-2022 cost 2 billion zlotys (10.4 billion crowns). Vessels up to 100 meters long and 20 meters wide with a maximum draft of 4.5 meters will also pass through it. But in order for these ships to sail further inland through the already existing 23-kilometer-long channel to Elblag and the Gdańsk Bay, it will have to be deepened to 5 meters, which will cost an additional 210 million zlotys (1.1 billion crowns).
After not only ecologists, but also representatives of local governments criticized the government that the canal would be highly unprofitable and would also threaten the surrounding fauna and flora, President Duda emphasized in the Saturday edition of Rzeczpospolité that “it is not about the biggest ships passing through the new canal . Since then, we have other ports in Poland. Here it was about the symbol and the realization of this investment, which was a great victory”. Kaczyński, on the other hand, said that this building is also a manifestation of “all-encompassing patriotism and sovereignty of Poland”.
The canal as a tourist curiosity
“The cost of this investment will pay off in a thousand years. The calculations are relentless. This is really not a joke, but a bitter reality,” Wlodzimierz Ryzdzkowski from the Department of Transport at the University of Gdańsk told TVN24. “The canal is nothing more than a tourist curiosity worth two billion zlotys, caused by Kaczyński’s whim. The government now wants the municipalities to spend an additional two hundred million zlotys on the completion of the waterway, but they reject it, saying that it would be wasted money in advance,” he added.