Lithuanian authorities have announced that bus drivers transporting people in Belarus without a permit risk losing their visas. Lithuania is working intensively to mitigate traveller flows between the two nations.
The news was announced by Vilmantas Vitkauskas, head of Lithuania’s National Crisis Management Centre, who pointed out that this practice has become increasingly repetitive. He said for LRT Radio that the authorities are carrying out checks and do not plan to reduce those anytime soon.
We can talk about abolishing visas for carriers if we see such cases repeating.
The country aims to cut the number of permits for bus drivers and other workers carrying passengers between Lithuania and Belarus by almost half in an effort to put straps on the increased border crossing activity.
According to Genius Lukosius, the head of Lithuania’s Transport Safety Administration, over 60 buses carrying passengers to Belarus have been inspected in the past six months, and only one of them had a valid permit for the trip.
Lukosius further revealed that out of 64 checks, 25 buses did not have the permit for the trip, which can result in the drivers being fined between €2,500 and €3,000 for passenger transport violations, while repeated offences can be fined from €3,000 to €3,500.
There are 58 bus services running between Lithuania and Belarus, but the Lithuanian government wants to reduce the number of Belarusians entering the country, citing national security as the reason.
Lithuania is also considering shutting two more border checkpoints on its border with Belarus, while another two checkpoints on the Belarusian border were closed last year.
The flow of Belarusian citizens has recently increased by around 50 per cent via all road border checkpoints along the border with Belarus. The increase in the flow of transport, goods and people requires optimisation of the process of managing these flows and even more detailed screening of persons, vehicles and goods.
Laboriskes and Raigardas checkpoints, which were the only ones that remained open after Lithuania closed two checkpoints last year, are also up for debate to be sealed as part of the country’s efforts to reduce border crossings at this checkpoint.
LRT reports that in 2023, 3.9 million border crossings were recorded at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border through road checkpoints, up by 25.5 per cent more compared to the previous year, and Belarusian nationals represented two-thirds of the total border crossings.