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March 5, 2019

Weight Limits will be Enforced on BR-163 in Northern Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The movement of trucks hauling soybeans from Mato Grosso north on highway BR-163 to ports on the Amazon River has been halted due to heavy rains making the unpaved sections impassable. As a result, there are thousands of trucks stranded or stopped in an enormous traffic jam waiting for crews to reopen the highway.

In addition to this already severe problem, truck drivers on BR-163 are now going to be confronted with another problem - excessive weights. The regional supervisor of the National Department of Infrastructure and Transportation (DNIT), announced that they are installing a portable balance this week on Highway BR-163 in the state of Para. If a truck is determined to be over the weight limit, they will not be allowed to proceed further until their weight is reduced and they will be fined for the excessive weight.

This could make an already bad situation even worse for individual truckers. The only way to reduce the weight of an overweight truck would be to offload some of the soybeans onto another truck. This would have to be done generally by hand, but there are no other trucks or employees available to do the off-loading. At this point, it is unknown what percentage of the trucks on highway BR-163 are over the weight limit.

Highway authorities contend that overweight trucks make the poor road conditions even worse along the unpaved sections of the highway. Their objective is to help keep the unpaved section of the highway open during periods of heavy rain such as they have experienced for the last several weeks.

Since last weekend, authorities blocked the highway in two sections in order to allow crews to try to improve the unpaved sections in the hillier areas where the trucks cannot get up the hills. When the dirt roadway get saturated, the heavy trucks cannot get up even the smallest of slopes without assistance due to the slippery conditions.

Authorities have also blocked trucks from entering the highway at the border between Mato Grosso and Para, because if they proceeded north, they would be stuck in the already enormous traffic jam where there are no services available. If they stayed in Mato Grosso, at least they could wait at local truck stops until the situation improves.

The supervisor stated what everyone already knows, the solution to this reoccurring problem is to asphalt the remaining sections. He indicated that the federal government has placed a priority of paving the highway during the upcoming dry season to avoid the problem from reoccurring.

Highway BR-163 extends 707 kilometers within the state of Para from the border with Mato Grosso to the Port of Miritituba. There are only 49 kilometers that are not paved or approximately 30 miles. Unfortunately, the unpaved section is in a hilly area which creates the problems for the trucks.