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During a high-level meeting on transport sustainability of landlocked countries, taking place in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Paraguay's public works minister, Ramón Jiménez Gaona, underlined advances by the country in urban transport and the urgent need to implement the project to connect the Paraguay and Paraná rivers.
The minister added that the Hidrovía river connection project is central to the country's development, according to a release from the public works ministry.
"The transformation in Paraguay has begun, but we're not satisfied, we plan to do a lot more," Gaona said, referring to projects such as the plan to modernize passenger transport in capital Asunción and the start of construction works for the country's first bus rapid transit BRT system, better known as Metrobús.
Regarding the Hidrovía project, the minister explained that it is essential since it is key for foreign trade and particularly the transport of agri-food production.
The Paraguay and Paraná rivers, which form the basin of the Paraguay-Paraná waterway system, establish the borders, physical characteristics and many aspects of the country's geographical structure, and at the same time are the routes on which 85-90% of the nation's cargo is transported.
The minister also stated during the meeting that Paraguay could be an ally to Bolivia in accessing the Atlantic Ocean via the Paraguay-Paraná waterway. Bolivia lost access to the Pacific Ocean in a war with Chile towards the end of the 19th century and the majority of Bolivia's foreign trade currently goes through port terminals in northern Chile.