Despite fears about huge cost, the Bio-Oceanic railways designed to connect Santos port, in Brazil, to Ilo port, in Peru is moving ahead with member nations setting up a monitoring to oversee progress of the mega-project. The Bi-oceanic Operating Group members include Bolivia, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and Paraguay.
A Bolivian official, Ariel Torrico, coordinator of the Ministry’s Railway Technical Unit, explained to the press that video conference was held with all the staff in charge of technical administrative issues of the railway corridor. He stated that all staff was informed about the work done over the past three years through the memoranda of understanding and the feasibility studies carried out by the Peruvian side”
He disclosed that technical studies confirmed viability and the great benefits of the megaproject aimed at linking the Pacific with the Atlantic. Bolivia estimates construction works may begin this year. By 2021 the train will be transporting more than 13 million passengers annually. With a higher number of cargo tons, it will provide logistical alternatives for the foreign trade of this country. Due to its relevance for international trade, this project is considered Panama Canal of the 21st century.
Earlier in June 2018, the governments of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru met in the Peruvian capital Lima) to agree on how to promote the construction of a railway across the South American continent. A framework for a task force was agreed, and a feasibility study into the mega project, which has formerly been promoted by China, will now be undertaken.
German and Swiss diplomats, and international development banks, also attended. The idea would be to speed up cross-continental freight and integrate the economies of the four countries. Depending on the eventual route, the line could be between 3,800km and 5,300km in length, and cost estimates have ranged widely, from $10bn to $60bn.
At the Lima meeting, Peruvian officials presented a study arguing there is enough cargo traffic between the countries to make the project viable, reports TeleSUR, a Venezuelan-based news organisation.
“As a state, we are seriously committed with the Bi-oceanic Railway Corridor,” said Peru’s minister of transport and communications, Edmer Trujillo. “We are committed to working together to go forward and complete this very important project, which will integrate us and lead to our countries’ development.”
Bolivia’s public works minister Milton Claros told Bolivian media they had agreed to contract an “integral feasibility study” on the conditions in the four countries, said TeleSUR.
European states are interested in getting involved, where China was before. The ambassadors of Switzerland and Germany, as well as delegates from the European Union, attended the Lima meeting.
This follows a visit to Bolivia last March by a German trade mission to discuss the project. Then, Germany’s transport minister hailed the scheme as “the megaproject of the century”.
Representatives from the Inter American Development Bank and the Latin American Development Bank were also at the Lima meeting, and reiterated their support for the project, said TeleSUR, adding that the Russian Railways Society also expressed interest in taking part.
Considered by Bolivian President Evo Morales as the Panama Canal of the 21st century, the project will demand so far an investment of 10 billion dollars.
-With agency reports