The most popular shallow channel was the Vääksy canal. Almost 9,500 boats passed through the canal, including over 4,400 lockings. The three busiest canals remained the same as in previous years: Vääksy on the Lahti–Heinola route, Murole on the Tampere–Virrat route (2,700 lockings) and Vaajakoski on the Jyväskylä–Suolahti route (2,600 lockings).
On the Saimaa Canal, passenger rates remained close to zero, but the volume of cargo grew by nearly 5% in terms of both exports and imports. Timber floating and barge transport on lake Saimaa remained at the previous level; the volume of timber floating even increased slightly, totalling about 450,000 m³. For ports, the biggest growth in tonnage was reported in the export traffic of the port of Joensuu.
Service level was good
“A large part of the canals operate on a self-service basis. There were very few faults and hardly any related waiting times for boaters,” says Tero Sikiö, Head of Unit, Inland Waterways.
In the event of a problem, the on-call service will be available in a couple of hours, and in the future it will be easier to deal with any faults: “For example, on the Iisalmi route there will be more camera footage available to the lock operator at the Taipale lock, enabling us to deal with fault situations even more quickly.”
Sights set at the 2022 season
This winter, small-scale maintenance work will be carried out on the canals, such as repairs to wooden gates, painting of steel structures and installation of camera systems. In the fairways, the focus is on the repair of safety equipment. The boating season will begin in May in three phases, starting from the south. The first canals are expected to be opened on 6 May 2022.
The icebreaking season has begun on Saimaa and traffic continues according to the weather, in the mildest winters all year round. “We are constantly monitoring the ice situation and will issue a notification if the traffic can no longer continue,” says Sikiö.