The Brazilian government plans to spend US$ 17 million (50 million reais) to eliminate snags at five of the country's biggest ports: Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Paranaguá, Rio Grande, and Vitória.
The decision was made yesterday at a meeting of the Industrial Development Council (CDI), based on a report presented by an interministerial group that visited the 11 ports responsible for 95% of the country's port activity.
The goal is to raise productivity 30% and resolve immediate problems, such as lack of maintenance, the need for dredging to permit greater drafts in wharf areas, and difficulties in rail and highway access, among others.
In the Port of Rio de Janeiro, for example, cargo access by train has become more difficult since 70 families built their houses along the rail bed.
"Trains have to move at a minimum speed to avoid risks to the people who circulate nearby, and this is bad for access to the port," reported the Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, who presided the CDI meeting.
The measures include the purchase of scales for various ports, the creation of administrative centers and parking areas for trucks that unload cargo in the ports, and the interconnection of computerized data.
Ports and international terminals in Brazil that don't possess security certificates will be prohibited from receiving vessels engaged in international shipping and should be restricted to coastal transportation.
The certificates, according to the Ministry of Justice, represent the final stage in a process of adapting Brazilian ports and terminals to the new security norms adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prevent terrorist attacks.
It ended early in July, the federal government's inspection of the installation of this security system, known as the ISPS Code. Of the 105 ports and terminals inspected, 56 were certified. 37 terminals in the port of Santos and eight public ports presented minor flaws.
According to the executive secretary of the National Port Commission (Conportos), í‰zio Ricardo Borghetti, 197 units submitted risk assessments, the first pre-requisite for certification. 162 presented complete plans and asked to be inspected.
Brazil possesses 218 port facilities, of which 180 are private terminals and 38, public ports, but not all of them are involved in international trade.
Since 1995 the country has adopted domestic norms, implanted by the Conportos, to protect ports against robbery, piracy, drug and arms trafficking, illegal immigration, and contraband.
The IMO certificate treats ports as international territory, with rules to protect against all types of terrorist acts.
In May, the federal government allotted US$ 32.44 million (100 million reais) to adapt the ports to the new system.
According to the director of the Department of Water Transportation Programs of the Ministry of Transportation, Paulo de Tarso Carneiro, the government is discussing the creation of a special tax on port activities to recover what it invested.