By Dorah Feliciano, Contributing Reporter
BRASILIA, BRAZIL – The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) announced it is opening up a R$500 million credit line for independent truckers while the federal government declared it will invest R$2 billion for the construction, repair, and maintenance of the nation’s highways. With the announcements, the government seeks to avoid a new truckers’ strike.
“We have to deal with the reality of the choice that Brazil made five decades ago, of the highway model, and to demonstrate our respect and appreciation for the truck drivers and the supply of the Brazilian population,” said Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni during a press conference on Tuesday.
The BNDES credit line will be directed towards the purchase of tires and vehicle maintenance. Each independent trucker will have a credit line of R$30,000.
According to Lorenzoni, the cost of truck maintenance is one of the main challenges faced by independent truckers today. The lack of maintenance of the vehicles and the bad conditions of the nation’s highways impact safety.
Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Freitas claims that the government is analyzing the needs of truck drivers and seeking to identify the main problems, bottlenecks, and limiting factors of the freight sector.
Freitas said that the government has already mapped out the routes with the greatest flux of freight transporters, such as the BR 163, through which grain production gets sent to the Miritituba port in Pará.
He says that traffic jams and trucks stuck in the mud are inadmissible, and promised urgent improvements.
Earlier this week, President Bolsonaro pressured Petrobras CEO Roberto Castello Branco to suspend a 5.7 percent increase in diesel oil prices. With the effects of last year’s truck drivers’ strike still fresh in Brazilians’ minds and rumors of a possible new strike in the coming weeks, government officials are trying desperately to keep truck drivers happy.