The government of Colombia wants to significantly increase cargo traffic on the Magdalena River. An intergovernmental group has been set up to study the project. At present, the river moves around 1.7mt (million tonnes) per annum, but once improvement work has been completed, capacity would be increased to 12mt, although only half of this will be taken up in the short term. To put this into perspective, in the country as a whole, some 180mt of cargo is moved annually.

To ensure that the river remains navigable between Puerto Salgar and Bocas de Ceniza throughout the year, new river training and dredging works are required. The government views the potential of the river as being one of a ‘cargo transport motorway’.

At present, mostly hydrocarbon consignments are dispatched along the river, although in recent times steel shipments have been sent with a saving around 30% in shipping costs compared to land transport. In addition,Trafigura and Sicor are also handling general cargo, dry bulk and containers on river vessels.