Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Hauling freight along Brazil's Highway of Death

Bad roads, drugged drivers, jammed ports and red tape erode profits from the country's agricultural exports and hamper its ambitions to supply more of the world's food

1 of 18

A truck drives along highway SP-304 in Borborema, Sao Paulo state, Sept. 22, 2012. With its rail and river networks underdeveloped, Brazil depends heavily on trucking to move its valuable commodities to port.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

2 of 18

A cross hangs in the windshield of truck driver Marcondes Mendonca as he transports a cargo of cereal grain along highway MT-100 in Alto Taquari, Mato Grosso state, Sept. 23, 2012. Traffic bottlenecks, backlogs at port, bureaucracy, and high fuel and labour costs handicap the country in its ambitions as a global breadbasket.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

3 of 18

Trucks drivers are reflected on a mirror after eating lunch at a restaurant along highway SP-304 during a stop on their route towards Brazil’s main ocean port of Santos, in Borborema, Sao Paulo state, Sept. 19, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

4 of 18

Brazilian truck drivers negotiate a tight curve along highway BR-364 in Pedra Preta, Mato Grosso, Sept. 25, 2012. Goods can take three times as long to move a given distance in Brazil as they do in China.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 18

A truck driver covers his face to protect himself from dust as he waits to unload his cargo of cereal grain at the rail terminal of America Latina Logistica, along highway BR-364 in Alto de Araguaia, Mato Grosso Sept. 24, 2012. Brazil’s rail network is smaller than it was 90 years ago.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

6 of 18

A gas station worker cleans the window of a truck next to an image of Our Lady of the Road, near highway BR-163, also known as the Highway of Death, in Nova Mutum, Mato Grosso, Sept. 27, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

7 of 18

Truck driver Paulo dos Santos, 43, his wife Roseli Nesteraqui, 39, and their children Wellinngton, left, 18, and Erica, 12, wait for the second day for a new axle to arrive for their truck, at a gas station near highway MS-306 in Chapada do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul state, Sept. 18, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

8 of 18

A trucker drives past shipping containers and graffiti of Christ the Redeemer after unloading his freight of cereal grain at the port of Santos, Sept. 20, 2012. The port is infamous for red tape and is strained by rising cargo volumes.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

9 of 18

A truck drives past Vale SA fertilizer plant after loading fertilizer to transport to the soy and corn fields of Mato Grosso, in Cubatao, near Santos, Sept. 21, 2012. Most economists agree that a poor transport network, saturated ports and other deficiencies prevent the Brazilian economy from consistently growing more than 4 per cent a year.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

10 of 18

Truck driver Marcondes Mendonca leaves the bathroom after showering in a parking lot as he waits to unload his cereal grain cargo at Santos, Sept. 21, 2012. Decent toilets and rest areas are in short supply along his route.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

11 of 18

A bus drives past a line of trucks stuck along highway BR-364, in Alto Garcas, Mato Grosso, Sept. 17, 2012. More than 1,200 truckers died on Brazil’s federal highways last year, according to police data.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

12 of 18

Tire repairman Uilton Gama, 27, stands at his post along highway MS-306 in Chapada do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul state, Sept. 18, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

13 of 18

A truck driver sleeps in a hammock during a break at a truck stop along highway MS-306 in Chapada do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul, Sept. 18, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

14 of 18

A truck driver cooks in his mobile kitchen while waiting to unload his truckload of cereal grain at the rail terminal of America Latina Logistica, in Alto de Araguaia, Mato Grosso, Sept. 17.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

15 of 18

Drivers walk in front of parked trucks while waiting to unload their cereal grain freight at Ecopatio in Cubatao, Sept. 20, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

16 of 18

Truck driver Correia, 29, his wife Miriam da Silva, 28, and their 11-month-old son Fhawan Correia, sit inside the cab of their truck as they wait to unload their cargo of cereal grain at the rail terminal in Alto de Araguaia Sept. 24, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

17 of 18

A cap hangs from a cross alongside highway BR-163, also known as the Highway of Death, while trucks drive past in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, Sept. 28, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

18 of 18

Marcondes Mendonca waits for entry to a parking lot before unloading his cereal grain freight at Brazil’s main ocean port of Santos, Sept. 20, 2012.

NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

Report an error