Highway Concessions, the Way Brazil Found to Maintain Its Busy Roads

The first federal highway concessions in Brazil date from 1996. There are six highway segments operated by concessioners: the Via Dutra (between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro), Rio de Janeiro-Juiz de Fora, the Rio-Niterói bridge, Rio-Teresópolis-Além Paraí­ba, Porto Alegre-Osório, and the Pelotas Highway Hub.

The last two are located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Based on these experiences, the government formulated its calls for new concessions in 1999, with improved rules.

The second phase of concessions was conceived by the previous Administration, but, even after the current Administration introduced modifications in 2003, basically the same criteria are used in choosing highways for operation by private firms.

According to the National Land Transportation Agency (ANTT), the highway, in the first place, must have enough traffic to assure the concessioner a permanent flow of resources.

For this reason, the segments that are currently operated as concessions and the segments included in the new lot of concessions are heavily used arteries, especially for the transport of freight.

Such segments receive so much wear and tear that the concessionary scheme is one of the most feasible models for the government. Maintenance must often be done on a daily basis.

In the second phase of concessions, the government will receive the additional benefit of a fee in exchange for authorizing the concession. This money can be used to get other highways in shape to be turned over to private hands.

Another criterion used to select the highways that will become concessions is the per capita income of the population that lives in the region served by the highway.

According to the ANTT, even if a highway is heavily trafficked, it is unfair to penalize areas whose residents are unable to pay the tolls that will be charged when the concession goes into effect. This would be the case of the Transamazon Highway and most of the segments of the Belém-Brasí­lia highway.

Agência Brasil

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