Fostering Cooperation in Inland Navigation

Colombian Minister of Transport, Natalia Abello Vives, and Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen jointly launched the Colombia Plan Maestro Fluvial at the naval base in the port of Barranquilla, Colombia on 3 September 2015.

The plan is a Colombian-Dutch co-production that focuses on the connection of inland waterway transport. Furthermore the plan aims to strengthen an institutional framework and to combine navigational waterways and inland ports with flood protection, nature development and spatial planning.

Dutch minister Schultz van Haegen visited Colombia leading an economic mission with representatives of 17 Dutch companies and organisations involved in integrated water management.

The companies included Arcadis, Van Oord, Twynstra Gudde, Hitec, Deltares, Royal IHC, Damen, Boskalis, Strukton, OMA, Volker Stevin, Royal HaskoningDHV and Witteveen + Bos.

This plan will be supplementary to the Intermodal transport master plan, to be launched in November, and allows waterways to be part of multimodal transport, so that in the next 20 years Colombians can count on all modes of transportation,” said Minister Abello Vives, who mentioned the experience of the Netherlands in the construction of sustainable systems and multimodal transport.

Schultz emphasized the importance of the plan: “River transport doesn’t stop with navigable rivers. It’s a start! Intermodal transport is essential to connect all the areas. We have to take care of excellent connections between all modalities, especially road transport. Otherwise our efforts will fail.

So far, Colombian government allocated $2.4 billion for a portfolio of 13 projects for improving navigation on rivers and improvement of inland ports. One of the projects concerns the Magdalena river. The Brazilian-Colombian consortium Cormagdalena was awarded a $1.3 billion contract in September 2014 to make 900 km of the river navigational. An other project is Canal del Dique for which the Dutch firm Royal HaskoningDHV was contracted in 2013.