Morales eyeing construction of binational rail line to Ilo port

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bolivia's President Evo Morales has expressed interest in building a rail line from the eastern border of the land-locked country to Peru's Ilo port in Moquegua department.

The line would connect Puerto Suárez on the Brazil-Bolivia border, Puerto Quijarro in Santa Cruz department, and Ilo port, helping Bolivia to boost international trade, state news agency Andina reported.

The rail line would also benefit Peru and Brazil, Morales added.

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Bolivian rail firm Ferroviaria Oriental (FOSA) currently operates a rail line that runs between Santa Cruz and Puerto Suárez, which could be incorporated into the new rail line, according to state news agency ABI.

Peru's President Ollanta Humala has committed to accelerating the approval of agreements signed by former president Alan García regarding Bolivia's use of Ilo port, according to Morales.

"Once these [agreements] are approved, we will have the option to export our products via Ilo with greater ease towards the Pacific Ocean," ABI quoted Morales as saying.

Also underway is the construction of a 150km highway connecting La Paz and Ilo port. The La Paz department government began drawing up plans to build the US$150mn highway in August this year, and hopes to complete work by 2015.

Peru's government has already set aside a small plot of land and an access route at the port for Bolivia's navy under the Ilo Act, signed by Morales and García in October last year.