The length of public and departmental roads in the Muezersky District is 948 km. Local roads in the district are predominantly earth roads, mostly in need of reconstruction and repair (including the Reboly - Lendery road, the road to the Inari checkpoint). The length of public motor roads in the district is 615.3 km (fig. 1).
In today's circumstances, introduction of the Inari checkpoint may fundamentally change the situation with the transport infrastructure for the district economy, as it would necessitate spatial development of the transport route network (first of all, paved motor roads).
Domestic cargo transport by motor vehicles in Republic of Karelia in 2001 was 104.2 million ton, including 1.6 million ton, or 1.5% of the republic's total, in the Muezersky District (fig. 2). Over 90% of total cargo transport volumes in the Muezersky District in 2001 were forest products (roundwood and cut-to-length timber, wood residues and non-timber forest products). After the Inari checkpoint is put into operation, the volumes of cargo transport by motor vehicles via the Muezersky District may grow at least tenfold.
The Muezersky District maintains both the motor road and railway transport activities. The main railway line - West-Karelian branch of the Oktiabrskaya railway - cuts across the Muezersky District in the north-to-south direction. It connects most settlements with each other, as well as to Petrozavodsk and Kostomuksha.
Inari checkpoint is situated in the north of the Russian-Finnish border, which is the only border shared by Russia and the European Union. Inari lies on the same latitude as the town of Lieksa, some 70 km to the east of it.
The driveways leading to the checkpoint from the Finnish side are in good condition. The Finnish customs is adequately equipped and staffed with qualified personnel securing efficient operation of the checkpoint in its current status of a bilateral simplified procedure (temporary) checkpoint.
The Russian section of the Inari checkpoint is situated on the road connecting the village of Lendery with the national border. It operates as a temporary checkpoint. The checkpoint is now of key importance for timber traffic between the Muezersky District logging companies and Finland. Annual traffic amounts to about 150,000 m3, or 120,000 ton (according to the Muezersky District Administration).
At present, the bulk of the traffic across the border in the Inari checkpoint area is specialised timber trucks carrying timber from Russia to Finland. Passengers crossing the border are mostly people on business trips. The tourist flow via the Inari checkpoint is negligible, just several crossings a year.
The Inari checkpoint now serves about 2% of all cargo transport border crossings both from the Russian and from the Finnish sides, or 5.4% of the cargo transport border crossings at all five operating simplified-procedure checkpoints.
The contribution of the Inari checkpoint to serving the transport flow is so low because it is far away from major transport routes, driveways are often in the emergency condition and the focus is on foreign trade demands of the logging companies based in the Muezersky District.
Keeping in mind the prevalent cargo types and border crossing purposes, future activities of the Inari checkpoint are expected to be orientated on:
The first aspect will be dominating at the first stages of its establishment and operation as a simplified-procedure checkpoint and as an international motor vehicle checkpoint. The significance of this specialisation will be gradually decreasing with the development of the tourist infrastructure in the Muezersky District and with the development of cross-border activities.
The second aspect, connected with tourist services will be gaining significance. It is the tourist in- and outflux that the currently idle passenger- and cargo carrying capacity of the Inari checkpoint (40%) should be used for.
In the long term, overall priority in the Inari checkpoint activities will be given to this aspect, as large freight flows will be gradually redirected to the Lytta checkpoint. This will happen because the "Ledmozero-Kochkoma" railway, concluding the construction of the so-called Archangelsk transport corridor, will be put into operation in 2003-2004. Thus, the Lytta checkpoint will become a large trans-shipment, storage and customs post, performing important economic functions and comprising both motorway and railway terminals.
The Inari checkpoint will be an auxiliary checkpoint of regional significance. Its main role will be to relieve the checkpoint of key importance for Republic of Karelia, Finland and Russia (Lytta and Vartsila) of some load, and to satisfy tourists' demand for border crossing services. Tourists crossing the border at the Inari checkpoint will be predominantly involved in ecological and sport tourism, learning and entertainment bus tours, business tours. Possibilities will thus be created for establishing a tourist infrastructure in the Muezersky District, as well as for designing and operating bilateral high-performance tourist products oriented towards both the European and the Russian consumer markets of tourist services.