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Infrastructure will receive $55 billion

Article - October 26, 2012
The country’s ports are an integral component to its success in trade, especially of coal exports
With a steady increase of foreign direct investment (FDI) and an average growth in GDP of 5.5 per cent per year, Colombia is taking the necessary steps to ensure its infrastructure is built and modernised at a consistent rate.

In the northwestern corner of the South American continent, Colombia enjoys the ideal location to be one of the principal shipping hubs in the region, with coasts facing both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This ample access to waterways means Colombia has important ports scattered between the mainland harbours, like in the city of Cartagena de Indias.

President Juan Manuel Santos has made infrastructure development a key point of his policy announcing a new national agency devoted to it as well as a $55 billion investment plan to be implemented over the next 10 years. The money will go toward doubling the length of Colombia’s divided highways, upgrading Bogotá’s airport, renovating railways and expanding ports for increased seaway shipping.

President Santos’ commitment to his country’s infrastructure can be further witnessed with significant examples throughout his term including the allocation of $2.2 billion in reconstruction after a series of devastating floods in April 2011 caused landslides, wiping out many homes and roads, among other things.

The government, which has a pro-business attitude, has also made known its interest in attracting FDI, with the energy industry and infrastructure as two of the leading sectors. Colombia is currently seen as one of the most promising and secure investment markets in Latin America, seeing 113 per cent growth between 2010 and 2011.

Both national and international investors are having a significant impact on development projects in the country. In fact, at least half of the funds of President Santo’s infrastructure plan is projected to come from private investors. Tenders for 19 projects totaling $1.9 billion are expected to begin at the end of the year.

Of the industries within the country that will receive significant improvement, transportation is at the top. Investment in transportation rose from 0.7 per cent of GDP in 2004 to 1.6 per cent in 2010, with the Inter-American Development Bank recommending a further rise to 4 per cent.

With a complicated and diverse topography and 70 per cent of cargo transported in Colombia done by road, the country is placing top priority on improving the highway communication between important cities and common trade routes.

In fact, one of the most significant improvements will be to construct and modernise the highway system connecting Colombia’s second-largest city of Medellín to both the Pacific and Caribbean ports. This project is set to include four connector motorways with 900 km of new road, 600 bridges and 131 tunnels.

Colombia also works closely in collaboration with other South American countries to implement a regional integration plan in order to make roads safer throughout the continent. One commonly travelled trade route between Brazil and Colombia passes through the Andean foothills and winds along steep cliffs, some of the portions unpaved. Because of this, a new $376 million road will be built offering a safer route, especially for cargo trucks, set to open in 2016.

Besides the significant improvements seen in roads, Colombia’s second focus is its waterways, with about 80 per cent of the international cargo going through the seaports. Also, the internal Magdalena River, easily accessible from two major cities, Bogotá and Medellín, will be dredged throughout 900 km to make the river fully navigable and quintuple its shipping capacity. The government is collaborating on this project with the Chinese firm, HydroChina. 

However, the ports are really the essential component of Colombia’s shipping infrastructure. As the fifth largest coal producer in the world, Colombia relies heavily on the Port of Santa Marta for exporting this important natural resource. 

Being one of the main facilities for coal transportation, the Port of Santa Marta, located in the north of Colombia on the Caribbean Sea, enjoys private investments for funding, working closely with the area’s coal logistics operators.

Furthermore, beginning operations in 1993, the Port Authority of Santa Marta (SPSM in its initials in Spanish), was founded as a collaboration between 60 companies, including banana organisations, shipping companies and entrepreneurs, among others. The SPSM has ensured significant growth in the Port of Santa Marta including a sub-containerised cargo terminal, a dry and liquid bulk subterminal, and a specialised area for handling coal as well as a general cargo area. Each of these zones emphasises an environmentally friendly management method.

Operating out of the SPSM, one of the most important coal exporters is Carbosán, a private company established in November of 2003 through SPSM shareholders and the corporation Carboandes.

Since beginning operations in July of 2003, Carbosán has generated 562 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs. It is also equipped with a modern system of direct loading as well as truck dumping platforms and conveyors. Its facilities have the capacity to store up to 7 million tons of coal per year.

Aside from efficient services, Carbosán has proved its commitment to the environment, being careful to reduce as much as possible its CO2 emissions and reusing rainwater obtained from the city’s irrigation system.

Because of these responsible and modern systems, Carbosán was the only Latin American company invited to speak at the annual International Association of Ports and Bays event, hosted this year in Israel and attended by 230 worldwide port authorities.

Furthermore, Carbosán’s current success will allow it to ensure future achievements. The company is projected as a leader nationally and internationally within the coal transportation sector. Through private investments reaching $109 million, Carbosán plans to renovate the railroad leading to the Port of Santa Marta. This railway will be not only helpful to transport coal but will also allow passenger trains to be implemented for the local population. 

Additionally, the project will increase Carbosán’s capacity to transport and store coal, reaching up to 9 million tons per year, an important step in pushing Colombia’s prospering economy further.


Amancio Solís
05/09/2013  |  16:09
100% of 1

Todavía queda mucho que hacer, creo que va lenta esta locomotora de la industria..