Colombia’s government has awarded a consortium led by Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht a 3.5-trillion-peso ($1.3-billion) contract to improve the navigability of the Magdalena River, the Andean nation’s longest.
The project will be carried out along a 908-kilometer (565-mile) stretch of the river between the town of Puerto Salgar and the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla.
“This is undoubtedly the beginning of the river’s rebirth and the start of the resurgence of many intermediate cities,” Augusto Garcia, the director of Cormagdalena, the government agency tasked with managing the Magdalena River watershed, said in a statement.
The contract awarded to the Navelana consortium, which also includes Colombia’s Valorcon, includes construction of navigation channels, dredging and maintenance of the river over a period of 13.5 years.
Navelana said in a statement that the project will increase cargo-transport capacity on the river from 1.5 million tons to 6 million tons, while Cormagdalena estimated that transport capacity on the river will rise to 7,000 tons of cargo once the work is completed.
“This project is essential for the country’s competitiveness,” Eleuberto Martorelli, head of Odebrecht’s Colombia unit, said in a statement.
It aims to directly benefit 57 municipalities located on the banks of the Magdalena, which flows for 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from the Andes mountains in Colombia’s southwest to Barranquilla.