The governors of Brazil’s most populous states, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, have presented their priority infrastructure projects to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The political differences between the governors and Lula are not expected to be a major obstacle in terms of securing federal funding for the projects.
“The advancement of infrastructure projects in these states is of mutual interest to the president and the governors,” Mário Sérgio Lima, a senior political analyst at Medley Global Advisors, told BNamericas. “If, on the one hand, the projects will serve as a political achievement for the current governors, it is also true that Lula can use this as political propaganda for his preferred candidates in those states in the next elections cycle, saying that the projects advanced thanks to the federal government’s support.”
The projects were presented at a Friday meeting (pictured), which was a promise by Lula after defeating former president Jair Bolsonaro in the October elections, of meeting with all governors to learn what infrastructure projects were in most need of federal support.
Among the 27 governors that met with Lula were Tarcisio de Freitas (São Paulo), Romeu Zema (Minas Gerais) and Cláudio Castro (Rio de Janeiro), all three having supported the previous Bolsonaro administration.
“I would say based on their profiles that Zema is likely to be the governor that will have the most difficult relationship with Lula, because there are already clear signs that Zema wants to be a candidate in the 2026 presidential elections, representing right-wing political forces,” said Lima.
BNamericas looks at the projects presented by the governors.
Freitas, who was infrastructure minister under Bolsonaro, requested federal funding for three mobility projects.
These are the Intercidades passenger train, works to connect the coastal cities of Santos and Guarujá and the extension of metro line No. 2.
Intercidades is a PPP initiative to connect the cities of São Paulo and Campinas. Originally, the 10bn-real (US$1.95bn) project to build and operate the 101km rail link was planned for last year, but the general elections delayed an agreement on usage rights.
The federal government got involved because it will provide funds it raised from the early renewal of logistics firm MRS’ concession to operate the 1,686km Malha Sudeste rail network. MRS paid 4.20bn reais for the renewal.
Regarding the Santos-Guarujá project, Freitas is in favor of the construction of an immersed tunnel between cities. The advancement of this project is complex because the state government is trying to include it in the same concession package as the port of Santos, which is a planned concession that does not count on the Lula administration’s support as it considers it to be a privatization.
The Minas Gerais governor asked Lula to provide funds for the paving of federal highways that cross the state and the construction of water dams.
“The infrastructure of the federal highways that cross the state leave a lot to be desired and are in a bad state,” Zema said in a press release that mentioned highways BR-262, 040 and 381.
Regarding dams, Zema mentioned Berizal and Jequitaí as two key dam projects for the state that needed to be restarted and completed.
The governor also asked Lula to continue supporting projects that were kicked off during the previous federal administration, such as the Belo Horizonte subway, which was auctioned at the end of last year.
Rio de Janeiro
The Rio governor presented four projects during the meeting: widening works and the advancement of a concession for highway BR-040, construction of the Transbaixada road project, the Rio-Vitória railroad, and the gas pipeline project know as route 4b.
“The projects discussed are historical initiatives that will stimulate the economy of each region and change the lives of the population,” said Cláudio Castro in a release.
The 450km widening of BR-040, which connects the Rio capital and Minas Gerais capital Belo Horizonte, with a connection to Petrópolis, will cost an estimated 9.20bn reais.
Meanwhile, the 578km Rio-Vitória railway (EF-118) in Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro states includes the construction of six tunnels, 171 road viaducts, 130 railway bridges and 177 underpasses and pedestrian crossings.
The construction of Transbaixada includes a 12km road between the Washington Luiz and Presidente Dutra highways, and six viaducts and seven bridges.
For route 4b, a pipeline of more than 300km with capacity to transport 20Mm3 of gas, the estimated investment is 4.85bn reais. The pipeline will connect the Santos basin with the port of Itaguaí.
Source : Bnamericas