(Adds detail on BR-262/381, context)
By Jake Spring
BRASILIA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Brazil will add the Trans-Amazonian Highway to the list of projects for privatization, its infrastructure minister said on Tuesday, seeking new investment to pave a roadway that has already been blamed for deforestation.
The government also plans to sell to investors a concession to run BR-163, a key northern route for shipping Brazilian grains, adding it along with the Trans-Amazonian to a priority list for privatization at a meeting next month, Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Freitas told Reuters in an interview.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s government is seeking to overhaul Brazil’s poor transportation infrastructure, which raises costs and causes delays for the commodity-exporting powerhouse, by seeking private investors to operate dozens of road, rail and airport projects.
Freitas’ comments on roadways follow on the heels of a government secretary tasked with creating public-private infrastructure partnerships saying on Monday that the country would privatize more airports in the country’s south. That minister, Adalberto Vasconcelos, also aims to secure new investments from miner Vale SA and logistics company Rumo SA this year.
For roadways, five concessions are slated for auction this year with a long pipeline of projects to follow, according to Freitas. BR-262/381 in the state of Minas Gerais, sometimes called the “Road of Death” with the poor state of the road leading to deaths, will also be put on the privatization list next month, he said.
Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Lisa Shumaker