Argentina gives more details of US$33bn transport plan

Monday, March 20, 2017

Argentina's transport minister, Guillermo Dietrich, has provided further details of the government's plan to invest US$33bn over the next four years to improve transport infrastructure, which includes US$12.5bn to "double" the size of the national highway network by 2019.

In statements made to newspaper La Nación, Dietrich said that US$8.35bn of the funding for the plan will come from the private sector and that the overall transportation strategy drawn up is focused on 10 main targets.

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These include expansion of the highway network, said the minister, adding that when the current government came in, 40% of the country's roads were in poor condition and, of some planned 900 highway works, 300 were inactive, while now 1,100km of roads are currently under construction.

He said that one of the main aims of the plan is to improve access to the country's ports, explaining that that 10.5bn pesos (US$672mn) will be invested in railway and highway infrastructure for the city port of Rosario as "trucks can sometimes be waiting five days to unload at the port."

Another project he highlighted was the Agua Negra binational tunnel, which consists of two 14km tunnels across the border with Chile, which will connect San Juan province in northern Argentina with Chile's Coquimbo (IV) region.

He also announced a US$750mn investment in the Cristo Redentor pass, which will include funds from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The works will involve new roads, new lanes in different sectors and the rehabilitation of the Libertadores Tunnel, among others.

As regards the railways, some US$15bn will be invested in freight trains, which entails the rehabilitation of 17,500km of lines, of which 1,593km, costing US$2.6bn, will be on the Belgrano Freight railway, with funding from Latin American development bank CAF, China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), and the federal government.

Finally, in the air transportation sector, Dietrich said that the local air industry is "underdeveloped with obsolete infrastructure, and that now the government aims to double the size of the domestic air industry to 23.2mn passengers by 2019. This will begin with new companies being awarded domestic routes. Andes, American Jet and Alas del Sur have already received routes, and Flybondi will receive some shortly. Also under analysis are Avianca and Norwegian.