The tests to reactivate a cargo rail line that connects the Chilean port of Arica (north) with Viacha, Bolivia (southwest), will be suspended, Bolivian authorities announced this Thursday, after several days of roadblocks by truck drivers against the initiative.
The test is suspended, but we are going to continue working on the issue, assured Cynthia Aramayo, manager of Ferroviaria Andina, the railway's administration company.
The private firm decided voluntarily to interrupt operations, after a meeting with the Minister of Public Works, Edgar Montaño, and representatives of drivers and cooperatives of international heavy transport indicate an agreement between the parties released after the meeting.
However, the Bolivian Chamber of National and International Transportation, which brings together businessmen and did not participate in the negotiation, continues to conflict and maintains the roadblocks.
Specifically, it opposes the alleged expansion of other rail routes and warns that suspending this pilot test does not exclude the possible reactivation of the train.
The carriers assure that the provision of railways, inactive for 16 years, could cause them economic damage by providing an alternative for trade.
Therefore, the different sectors have protested with blockades since last week in various parts of the country.
The Chamber of Transportation cited Montaño in Cochabamba (centre), where leaders of the mobilized sector continued this Thursday afternoon a blockade on the highway to the west of the country. The minister accepted the invitation, but it was not specified when the meeting will take place.
The blockades remain and are radicalized as long as the minister does not attend, warned the general manager of the chamber, Giovanni Villaruel.
Bolivian private company Ferroviaria Andina carried out a pilot test last week with the rail transport of 422 tons of steel coils from Chile to Bolivia and, on the return, with 400 tons of soybeans.
Completed the test trips, Ferroviaria Andina intends to establish a continuous service, on a line that has a total of 440 kilometres (233 in Bolivian territory) and has been almost in disuse since 2005, when the private company in charge of operating it was declared bankrupt.
I believe that the exporter is the one who has to have the freedom to choose the means of transport, said Aramayo.
The right-wing Chilean senator for Arica José Miguel Durana criticized the reaction of Bolivian transporters, whom he described as selfish. It is necessary to resume international rail transport, which will benefit Chile, he told local media.
The Arica-Viacha line is part of the compensations that Chile made to Bolivia in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1904, after the War of the Pacific (1879-1884).