In view of the worsening of the coronavirus epidemic in Brazil, the country’s port terminals have reinforced the security measures and containment of the spread of Covid-19, according to guidelines from health authorities and the federal government. However, there is already a concern about possible logistical bottleneck due to the crisis.
The first fear is the very need to dismiss employees. Industry officials and executives have reiterated that there is no forecast for any port terminal shutdown, as occurred in China. The standard measure has been to implement remote work for administrative areas, release employees from risk groups and expand precautionary measures for those who work directly in the port operation.
Agribusiness & Port Logistics
A letter signed by almost 50 entities representing agribusiness segment was addressed on Wednesday, 18, to the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, and to the Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, requesting support from the federal government to guarantee the functioning of the national port logistics amid the coronavirus crisis.
Public & Private Ports In Operation
The National Waterway Transportation Agency (ANTAQ) announced today, 20, that public (including delegates), private and other port facilities remain in operation, as well as coastal and long-haul transportation activities.
In a note, ANTAQ clarified that only the Union will be able to determine the closure of port facilities in all Brazilian states or the suspension of service provision on interstate and international waterway transportation lines. The legal basis is Article 22, item X, of the Federal Constitution, and Ordinance 125, of March 19th, 2020, of the Presidency of the Republic.
“At the moment, the unrestricted suspension of passenger transport is not a measure indicated by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). The complete suspension of this service could harm access to medical care, the displacement of health professionals, the supply of vaccines , supplies and medicines for the Brazilian states,” added ANTAQ in its statement.
The Brazilian Association of Cabotage Shipowners (Abac) reported that the modal remains active. The companies associated with Abac have taken actions to protect their employees and contribute to the prevention of the contagion of Covid-19, following the guidelines of the country’s health authorities. The measures safely guarantee the continuity of cabotage services, always within the principles of preventing and maintaining the supply of products to society.
On Wednesday, operation in Santos Port was threatened due to a possible halt of the stevedores work, who even sent a letter to the authorities announcing their decision to stop working. The situation was, in principle, contained in a meeting between port authority, representatives of companies and unions.
The Santos Port Authority (SPA) published a note stating that maritime and road access are “open without any restrictions” and that it “acts to guarantee the full functioning” of the port. The agency has taken security measures since the beginning of the crisis.
Container terminals DP World, Santos Brasil and Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP) have reinforced their security measures and dismissed employees, but said there is no impact on activities.
The port operation could also be impacted in other ways, in addition to an employee stoppage itself. One of the concerns, for example, is in relation to the release of the cargo by inspection agencies, such as the Federal Revenue Service, the Ministry of Agriculture or the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), which need to verify imports.
The fear is that, with the delay, a huge queue will be generated. For now, the operations proceeds normally.
According to the president of Portos do Paraná, Luiz Fernando Garcia da Silva (who manages Paranaguá and Antonina), there is no forecast of an impact on the operation in the State, “unless there are mobility problems, as there was in China”. At the height of the crisis in the Asian country, one of the bottlenecks for cargo transport was the restriction of truck drivers, who interrupted activities.
According to the National Association of Cargo Transport and Logistics, it is too early to say whether there will be an impact on cargo transport, which will depend on the worsening of the epidemic. In March, the assessment is that the movement has been positive, driven by the soybean harvest.
In general, the assessment of executives and analysts about the current scenario is highly uncertain, and the forecasts seem to change every day. The fear – and the main scenario to be avoided panic, that could lead to a complete halt in activities and logistical chaos in the country.