The future of the administration of the Paraná-Paraguay waterway has not yet been resolved. Given the delay in the preparation of the final specifications to choose the future private concessionaire and the possible changes in the Ministry of Transport with the arrival of Sergio Massa to Economy, the government extended this Monday the “short” contract which he has maintained since September of last year with the state General Administrator of Ports (AGP)this time no expiration date.
The current contract expired on September 11, but the procedure moved forward amid rumors of a change in structure in the Ministries of Transport – on which AGP depends and the entity in charge of preparing the specifications and awarding the final tender – and Public Works with the arrival of Sergio Massa at the Ministry of Economy. With the signature of Alexis Guerrera, the Ministry of Transportation then extended the concession of the main entry and exit of products from the country with a month’s notice.
It was based on a request from the current administrator AGP to evaluate extending the term of the concession contract, a possibility that was found in the original decree. AGP’s argument, incorporated in the recitals of the resolution of the Ministry of Transport, indicates that “as of the date There are no certainties regarding the time that will elapse until the call for Public Tender entrusted to the National Entity for the Control and Management of the Navigable Way to grant a concession for the Trunk Navigable Way, nor for the corresponding takeover of service by the person or persons awarded the tender entrusted by Decree 949/20, at the entrepreneur’s risk and without endorsement. of the state”.
The AGP refers to Enavi, an entity currently chaired by former Escobar mayor Ariel Sujarchuk. It was created by decree on August 24, 2021 with the aim of preparing the final bidding documents for dredging and buoying, and then supervising its compliance in the next river route concession. Sujarchuk was appointed in mid-December and admitted a month ago that they were not going to be able to meet the deadlines set in the official calendar: “The commitment is that in four months we will have the first draft for the private tender, it is an achievable date and we will comply with it,” he reaffirmed in dialogue with PageI12 in July this year.
In this way, it is expected that the first drafts will begin to circulate in October of this year. Then it will be necessary to prepare the final specifications and begin the bidding process, which will not require less than ten months. As the true deadlines are uncertain, the government left an open door for the current administration “from September 11, 2022, the expiration date of the current deadline, until the commissioning of the service by the person or persons who were awarded the tender entrusted by Decree No. 949 of November 26, 2020”. Meanwhile, the AGP will continue to be in charge of maintenance through direct contracts, as has been the case since September of the previous year.
In dialogue with PáginaI12, Sujarchuk gave definitions on July 1 on the most controversial issues in his work to prepare the specifications for the final tender in private hands that have to do with the duration of the new contracts, which will be between 10 to 20 years, environmental care and trace.
With respect to trace, assured that three different specifications will be prepared for three sections of the river. One for upper Paraná, from Confluencia to the North with the intention of reaching Paraguay after negotiating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; another for the trunk waterway, extending it to Confluencia and including access to some provincial ports; and another for the Magdalena Canal project, off the coast of the province of Buenos Aires, which is currently not navigable and is strongly claimed by the Buenos Aires governor, Axel Kicillof.
The novelty lies in the inclusion of provincial ports, that the holder of the Entity does not want to advance. It is that one of the claims of the governors on the previous concession was that it worked mainly with the private ports of the main exporting companies, relegating the provincial interests and the capacity of state control. In the current layout, there are provinces on the banks of the Paraná that do not have ports capable of exporting, so they must do so by paying the private ones.
The company Hidrovía SA, a private operator made up of the Belgian group Jan de Nul and the local Emepa, operated and controlled for 25 years the navigation of the main entry and exit gate for grains (especially soybeans) and raw materials that it markets Argentina. As with the highways, the public service companies, YPF, and many etcetera, Carlos Menem and Domingo Cavallo privatized the work, allowing concessionaire companies to charge tolls per ton transported in exchange for maintenance of the dredging and marking.
The contract expired on April 30, 2021, and an extension of 90 days was established that kept the present consortium in office. As of September 11 of last year, the AGP took control of the maintenance of the trunk road, until the long-term tender for the dredging, marking and collection of the toll of the waterway entrusted to Enavi is awarded. The original contract, which was extended until further notice, contemplated the temporary concession and the collection of tolls for an initial duration of 12 months and with the possibility of extending it until the new private operator takes office.