Since colonial times, transport has always been a challenge for Brazil, due to the size and topography of its territory. Over the past thirty years, some victories have been achieved on this challenge with the adoption of a systematic approach to planning and implementing an integrated national land and maritime transport system, which encompasses railroads and river routes.
Since the 1970s, the government has given priority to financing highways, which transport around 85% of the Brazilian population and products. Brazilian highways are endowed with very modern characteristics. Virtually all state capitals are connected by paved highways. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other important cities have modern metropolitan highways. The Brazilian road network covers a distance of 1.5 million km, which represents an increase of over 300% over the last decades.
Compared to highways, the rail network is relatively small. In any case, some special projects were implemented, such as the Steel Railroad, which connects the iron ore mining regions in the interior of the country with steel mills and ports on the southeast coast.
River and maritime transport
In Brazil, the extensive coastline and the enormous waterways, in most of the interior lands, offer great potential for the economic use of maritime transport, which displaces more than 350 million tons per year. However, this mode of transport has not been sufficiently explored due to the high initial investments required and, especially, its low speed. Despite having shown growth in the last three decades, the long-term potential of the merchant marine has not kept up with the growth rates of the Brazilian maritime trade. In 1989, approximately 2% of products transported by sea were used in containers. There are 16 ports fully equipped for handling containers, among which the most active are Santos, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre.
Two waterways are contributing to improve this type of transport both in the interior of Brazil and in its connections with neighboring countries in the South and Southeast: “Paraná-Paraguay” and “Tietê-Paraná”. The latter is also known as the “Via Fluvial do Mercosul”.
The physical characteristics, on the one hand, and the need for accelerated economic growth, on the other, led, from the 1930s onwards, to the establishment of a wide network of air services. Both traditional and more recently implemented routes are covered by several commercial airlines that offer not only connecting flights but also regional and long-range flights, using more and more aircraft designed and manufactured in Brazil.
Currently, there are ten international airports operating at full capacity and offering high levels of comfort and efficiency. In addition to direct air connections with all countries in South America, with several in Central America and with a large number of destination points in North America, Brazil is connected, through air routes, with each of the continents.
All airlines registered in Brazil are owned by private companies, and some of them allow foreign participation in their capital.
One of the main points defended by this text to improve synergy within the Southeastern Development Belt is to increase the efficiency of the region’s transport and logistics network. Priorities are centered on coastal shipping, which is the most economical option, and river navigation, which is the least expensive land transport option. Railroads, which cost twice as much as waterways, represent only half of the highways in terms of costs; therefore, they should be the priority option for land transport, in cases where there is no waterway.
The main port facilities, along with the waterways and the most important arteries of the complex railway network, form five important corridors in an east-west direction, uniting the main economic centers of the Mercosur countries and Bolivia with each other (internal connections) and these with the main ports of departure to the Atlantic Ocean (external connections).
According to Sourcemakeup, one of Mercosur’s most important corridors is its main maritime route, the Maritime Route for Coastal Navigation Bahía Blanca (Argentina) – Tubarão (Brazil), which links Argentine, Uruguayan and Brazilian ports. Brazil, in particular, will have the opportunity to make important and economically advantageous transformations if it replaces road freight transport with coastal maritime transport. Recent changes in port legislation have resulted in private control over the construction, ownership and operation of ports, breaking the monopoly of state companies and dockers’ unions. This monopoly caused a shortage of investments in the sector, labor disputes, low efficiency and high stowage costs, which gave road transport along the coast an economic advantage over navigation.
To be able to take full advantage of the potential economic advantages of this important coastal shipping region, it is necessary to implement improvements in almost every port in the region. Most ports need to increase their cargo capacities and equip their facilities with equipment capable of operating with modern ships and containers. Among the specific improvements are the construction of modern and specialized berths, dredging works on the seabed, earthworks, creation of mooring areas and opening of access channels.
It is also necessary to introduce improvements in waterways and other logistics in the region. The stretch of the Paraguay River above Corumbá is navigable (for boats with a maximum draft of 1.5 m) only in the wet season, which lasts from four to six months each year. The Tietê-Paraná navigation system, currently being implemented in Brazil, will be sufficient to receive speedboat traffic from Itaipu, at the confluence of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, to the Itumbiara hydroelectric plant, 1,000 km to the north, and up to Piracicaba, 200 km from São Paulo. Currently, its northern stretch only reaches the São Simão dam, less than 200 km from Itumbiara. To complete this stretch and allow the launches to complete their trip in a southeast direction, to São Paulo, it will be necessary to build a lock at the São Simão dam. In order for the launches to reach Itaipu, locks are being built at the Jupiá dam, avoiding the rocky bed of the river near the location of Sete Quedas, in the state of Paraná. There is also a need to build a lock at the Barra Bonita dam, as well as an intermodal transfer station for the transfer of products between the launches and the railroad system, in Artemis, near the city of Piracicaba. For the intermodal corridor to be fully operational, it is necessary to build rail connections, one from Artemis, connecting with the São Paulo railroad, and another from Campinas to Jacareí. There is also a need to build a lock at the Barra Bonita dam, as well as an intermodal transfer station for the transfer of products between the launches and the railroad system, in Artemis, near the city of Piracicaba. For the intermodal corridor to be fully operational, it is necessary to build rail connections, one from Artemis, connecting with the São Paulo railroad, and another from Campinas to Jacareí. There is also a need to build a lock at the Barra Bonita dam, as well as an intermodal transfer station for the transfer of products between the launches and the railroad system, in Artemis, near the city of Piracicaba. For the intermodal corridor to be fully operational, it is necessary to build rail connections, one from Artemis, connecting with the São Paulo railroad, and another from Campinas to Jacareí.
Most of the railways in the region are far from reaching optimal conditions. Improvements are needed to enable them to operate modern equipment and loads, and some need to be rebuilt. The addition of new trainsets to the rail system will also require modernization of administration and operations. Even with modernization, the railway system will only be fully effective when it reaches fullness. In this sense, the “missing connections” of the rail system can be exemplified as follows:
A 360 km north-south connection along the west bank of the Paraguay River, from Asunción, Paraguay, to Resistencia, Argentina, at the confluence of the Paraná River, which could be completed with the construction of a bridge across the river. at the time of the Assumption. Notwithstanding the fact that the Paraguay River works as a transport artery for this region, the completion of the railway will make transport more efficient, by eliminating the need to transfer cargo from trains to launches and vice versa.
The 350 km stretch of the Asunção-Paranaguá railroad between Villarica, Paraguay, and Cascavel, Paraná state. This stretch will require the construction of a bridge over the Paraná River, for its completion.
The 120 km connection from Campinas to Jacareí, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, will allow the flow of products from the Tietê-Paraná river system to the Ferronorte railway, reaching Curitiba and the port of Paranaguá. In addition, it is necessary to build a 600 km long railway to link Porto Alegre to Pelotas, both in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and from Pelotas, modernization work will be carried out on the existing line, extending -to Montevideo. The 400 km railway, linking Guarapuava to Curitiba, needs to be extended to the future port of São Francisco. When the railroad between Porto Alegre and Pelotas is completed and the bridge over the Rio de la Plata, connecting Buenos Aires and Colônia do Sacramento, is finally built, the route between Porto Alegre and Buenos Aires, via Pelotas and Montevideo,.
The current level of telecommunications services throughout South America is below the world average and in some important urban centers, such as Rio de Janeiro, system deficiencies have been a clear impediment to economic development. In any case, the telecommunications industry is undergoing an institutional revolution throughout South America. It is an industry that was highly monopolized by state companies, until in recent years it began to move towards full participation in the sector. private.
The state telecommunications monopoly in Brazil was recently dissolved by a constitutional reform, while proposals for new regulations for the sector are being presented to the National Congress.
As a result of privatization, it is expected that the integration between national telecommunications systems will increase, or at least that private investments and the level of services will continue to grow. There are plans to improve long-range telecommunications connections, such as international connections through the SPC (Personal Communication System) based on satellite transmission, connected to the internal digitalized cell phone system, long-distance optical fibers and digital radio broadcasts, which reflect the promise of improved communications flow within the Southeastern Development Belt and from there to North America and Europe. Immarsat, Motorola and other companies are carrying out satellite communications projects.