Risks to Road Cargo in Brazil

Ade Onitolo
in safety,Transportation

The main threat to cargo is highway robbery. According to NTC & Logística, the national association of cargo transport and logistics, there were 13,500 reported cases of cargo robbery in 2010 which resulted in losses of about $622 million. Just over 61% of all cargo in Brazil, much of it destined for export, is transported by road. The association itself believes these figures understate the situation. The Southeastern Region, which includes the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo and is the country’s industrial and commercial heartland, accounted for 81% of all reported robberies in 2010, with losses estimated at US $410 million, of which $179 million were in the São Paulo area. The Southern Region (Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina), overland route for traffic to and from Argentina and Uruguay, accounted for another 8%.

The Inter-state Federation of Cargo Transport Firms (Fenatac) estimates that cargo robbery has been increasing at a rate of 7% a year, but has not produced comprehensive statistics. SETCESP, the Syndicate of São Paulo Cargo Transport Firms, reports losses of its members in the first five months of 2011 at $43 million. The Superintendency of Private Insurance reports that payouts for cargo robbery between January and July 2011 totalled $37 million. Only about 15% of all road cargo is tracked; the government has announced investments of $12.4 million in a multi-agency scheme to introduce standard cargo ID on an electronic platform.

Goods most frequently targeted by cargo robbers are foodstuffs, electrical and electronic appliances, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, textiles, auto parts, fuels, chemicals and metallurgic products.

In recent years, the private railway line serving the Carajás mine in northern Brazil has been blocked by protesters from indigenous communities and the landless peasant movement (MST), briefly interrupting the delivery of iron ore to port. Such incidents are likely to recur sporadically, and to be contained within days. The MST occasionally engages in short-lived blocking of highways.

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