San Antonio advances US$3.3bn port

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Friday, December 7, 2018

The US$3.3bn project to build a large scale port in the Chilean city of San Antonio is moving forward with detailed engineering studies, which are expected to be finished next year alongside the environmental impact study.

During the Train and Metro 2018 Congress held in capital Santiago, the project's head Daniel Ruiz said the port is experiencing additional traffic as many trucks and container ships have turned to San Antonio due to the ongoing port strike at Valparaíso.

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"It has been a good period to see what will happen in the future," he said, explaining that in the three weeks since the strike started San Antonio has seen cargo levels that were not projected to be reached until 2023, when the port would be close to saturation point.

As a result, Ruiz said the outer harbor project and the rest of the port will seek to increase the amount of cargo mobilized by train until it reaches 40% of all land transport.

Port operator EPSA is also planning rail terminals for the rest of the port that will be able to handle four 1,200m trains at the same time.

However, Ruiz pointed out that the country will need a freight rail corridor to support projects like this. "After those trains leave San Antonio, where would they go?" he asked.

FIRMS COMPLAINING

The traffic increase caused by the Valparaíso strike prompted criticism from San Antonio firms, including EPSA, which complained of a lack of infrastructure investments in the city.

In statements to daily El Mercurio, the CEO of local logistics association Colsa (of which EPSA is part of), María Pilar Larraín said there are US$840mn in projects that would improve the city's infrastructure and that have been stalled for years.

One of the projects she mentioned was the US$552mn concession of route 66, dubbed Camino de La Fruta, the tender for which had to be relaunched by the government after the original process launched last year failed to attract bidders.

According to documents from the public works ministry (MOP), the opening date for bids for that contract was moved to March 29 in the case of technical offers and April 26 for economic ones.