LA PAZ – Bolivia expects that an upcoming meeting with Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay will produce agreement allowing serious work to start next year on a proposed railway spanning South America from the Atlantic to Pacific, the country’s public works minister said Monday.
Milton Claros told reporters in La Paz that the goal of Friday’s meeting in Lima is “to sketch a critical timeline for the execution of the project” for a railway connecting the ports of Santos, Brazil, and Ilo, Peru.
It would cost an estimated $14 billion to complete the Santos-Lima mainline, a distance of 3,755 km (2,333 mi), and branch lines into Paraguay and Uruguay.
The five countries so far involved in the plan are not inclined to issue public bonds to fund the project, but would rather attract private investors, Claros said.
The minister said that agreements have been reached with companies from Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and others are expected to be finalized with China, Spain and Russia.
The project is also supported by the CAF-Development Bank of Latin American and the Inter-American Development Bank, Claros said.
The goal now, he said, is to bring in firms from the five participating countries to complete the necessary studies this year and begin work in 2019.
Bolivia has already spent nearly $221 million to build a 150-km (90-mi) long segment of the route.
The trans-continental project requires construction on 20 percent of the line, while 80 percent comprises the renovation and connection of existing railways, some of which have not been used for decades.