Connection by sea: a “cornerstone” for the future of Argentina

Mechanical engineer Alejandra Portatadino, specialist in production and heavy industry, explained the link between river and maritime connectivity with the federal development of Argentine territory.

22 de December de 2022 10:02

"The Magdalena Canal allows sovereign transit over the river and maritime coast of Argentina, directly and without the intervention of foreign actors," Portatadino ponders.

There is a strategy to overcome the main obstacles that oppose the integration of Antarctica and Argentine Patagonia into the national territory, which in turn offers the possibility of boosting the economy in a sustainable way and promoting the opening of new activities. It is about of the authorization of the Magdalena Canal , in the estuary of the Río de la Plata , to achieve a river and maritime connection between the large production centers throughout the country. This is the idea that the specialist Alejandra Portatadino deploys in an investigation focused on the strategic projection of the Argentine Republic on its continental maritime platform.

Published in the new academic journal of the National University of La Plata (UNLP) on topics linked to the Malvinas , the research article presented by the engineer Portatadino elaborates on the characteristics of the Magdalena Canal and its multiple potentialities for the development and integration of the territory southern. “At this moment,” explained the specialist in dialogue with Agenda Malvinas , “the Punta Indio Canal is used, less productive and efficient than the Magdalena .” First of all, as she commented, this canal is obsolete due to the cost of its maintenance. and the limitation of its capabilities. Furthermore, due to its orientation, navigation towards the south is difficult, which obstructs connectivity with the southern region. "On the other hand, the Magdalena - he specified - is a natural channel of the Río de la Plata , which has greater depth and accumulates a third of the annual sedimentation that meets in the bed of Punta Indio , which clearly shows us the advantages of its authorization."

Portatadino explained that using this natural passage could largely solve the chronic silting at the mouth of the Río de la Plata , since the dredging of these sediments is discarded in the river itself, causing islands and banks to form every four years that would take a century to appear due to natural causes. “By reducing this important ecological damage and reducing maintenance costs, we can say that the Magdalena Canal is the most sustainable option,” he stated.

Another indispensable characteristic of the Magdalena that is described in the research is its ability to allow two-way circulation, maximizing the transit of ships. Currently, all transportation of materials and merchandise to the Patagonian region is carried out by land. , something that inhibits its development and integration with the rest of the country. “The cost of ground logistics is overwhelming,” Portatadino explained; “With one liter of fuel, a truck travels 16 kilometers per ton of merchandise, while a ship travels 193 kilometers. To this we must add the costs of maintenance on the routes, which are even higher in Patagonia thanks to the use of chains for snow or limiting these works to spring and summer.”

The reduction in the cost of inputs would be an essential boost for the technology industry that is concentrated in Tierra del Fuego ; Continuing with the current model, on the other hand, could determine its disappearance due to the increase in hydrocarbons internationally. For the specialist, it would not be an exaggeration to say that without the Magdalena Canal the Fuegian region has no future.“Using this channel is essential to give cohesion to the territory, ” he considered , “and it is the cornerstone for comprehensive development with a sovereign perspective.”

Move the State to the south

For engineer Alejandra Portatadino , deepening and enabling the Magdalena Channel is the key to uniting the Antarctic sector and the maritime space to the national territory. The indispensable counterpart for this project is found in the construction of a multimodal port excavated north of Río Grande , that enables different economic activities and provides logistical services to generate income in the national State and the province.

“It is important that this port be administered and managed by the state sector ,” considered Portatadino , “since it is infrastructure with geostrategic relevance.” This is a central aspect for the maritime projection of Argentina , since the dependence on the interests corporate governance could be contrary to productive development, as occurred with the closure of the privatized naval industry towards the end of the 20th century.

Currently, there is a project underway for the construction of a multimodal port on the site mentioned by the specialist, scheduled to begin work in 2023 and begin operations in 2025. However, this is a private project run by the Mirgor Group. , the technology company born on the Fuegian island. “It is one thing for our country to provide services to the private sector,” commented the engineer, “and another thing is for a corporation to charge the State for using those services. They are two very different concepts.”

In addition to uniting southern production with the supply of national inputs, the existence of a state port would allow fishing in the Argentine Sea to be industrialized, and at the same time would serve to enhance the scientific activity that is developed in the Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic continent. .Facilitating the logistics of these activities means improving Argentina 's positioning on the global level.

As the specialist explains in her article, another important measure to move towards this development would be the relocation of the Argentine Antarctic Institute (IAA), currently in Buenos Aires , to the city of Ushuaia . “The Antarctic Institute should not operate 4,000 kilometers from the Antarctic continent - he considered - but in its own province.In Chile , for example, the research center has already moved to the city of Punta Arenas , because that is the way to generate comprehensive development of the region."

A maritime country

For the engineer and specialist Alejandra Portatadino , the current situation of productive inefficiency and inability for federal development is a consequence of the tradition with which the State has been thought of in Argentine history.

By Agenda Malvinas

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