“For the third year in a row, there are traffic problems once again on the unpaved section of BR-163 just south of the Amazon River in the state of Para,” writes South American Crop Consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier. He details that thousands of trucks carrying corn, beans and other commodities heading north are stopped due to muddy conditions along a 10-kilometer (6-mile) stretch of the highway in a hilly area. Some report that the traffic jam stretches as long as 40 kilometers, or roughly 25 miles.
The problems started on Feb. 24 and persisted through last week, according to Cordonnier. “Unfortunately, rains are expected in the region for at least another week or longer,” he adds. But looking out over the next two weeks, rains are expected to lighten.
On March 3, Brazil’s transportation department and Federal highway police close the highway on the border of Mato Grosso and Para, as they don’t want more trucks entering the highway until the situation improves further north. They hope to reopen the highway sometime this week. The Brazilian military has restricted movement of trucks to prevent the situation from worsening and are helping trucks to ascend hills one by one, Cordonnier details.
This comes during Brazil’s busy harvest season. Yesterday, AgRural reported that Brazil’s soybean harvest was 52% completed this week compared with 37% on average the prior five years.
Just a limited number of fully loaded trucks heading north toward ports along the central Amazon River are being allowed through. And stranded truckers along the road are making it tough to bring in heavy equipment to get things moving again. But so far, there have not been any reports of ports running low on beans.
Between the border with Mato Grosso and the Port of Mirituba, there are 49 kilometers on BR-163 that have not yet been asphalted. Those are scheduled to be asphalted this year.