Wednesday, November 15th was a celebration for the Rio Grande unit of Portos RS, which completed 108 years of foundation. The anniversary of the State’s main seaport was celebrated with the arrival of the first shipment of wind blades that will make up the structure of the Coxilha Negra Wind Farm, in the city of Santana do Livramento, and also with the first edition of the Rio Grande Port Race . There were 298 registered.
The race lasted five kilometers, starting in front of the Administrative Center and a 1 kilometer route, called a marathon, where children aged eight to 14 years old participated. The top five in each category were awarded trophies. All participants won medals. In addition to the traditional congratulations, including cake distributed among those present, those interested were able to have a chimarrão, with hot water provided by Corsan.
The Port of Rio Grande is responsible for connecting Rio Grande do Sul’s production with the world. There, more than 30% of what is produced in the state is exported.
It has been consolidating itself over the years as a logistical link and is on its way to becoming a reference in Conesul for the development of renewable energy. In the 19th century, crossing Barra do Rio Grande was not an easy task and many accidents were recorded. Navigation became safer from 1846 onwards, with the creation by the Imperial Government of the Barra Pilotage Inspectorate. A year later, 668 vessels had already passed through the place, creating a small pier, today called Porto Velho.
The place was mostly frequented by sailing vessels, but the continuous agitation of the waters at the mouth, the changes in the channels and the insufficient depth made Barra do Rio Grande a dangerous place. In 1855, the Ministry of the Navy sent lieutenant colonel and engineer, Ricardo Gomes Jardim, to study Barra and Porto. He concluded that any extension construction at the site was not possible and would be more harmful than useful.
Over the years, other professionals were consulted and gave the same answer. It was in 1875 that Sir John Hawkshaw, commissioned by the Imperial Government, visited the existing port facilities and proposed the construction of breakwaters that would depart from the coast into the ocean, on one side and the other of the mouth, with an extension of approximately two miles each, equivalent to 3220 meters. In 1906, engineer Elmer Lawewnce Cortheil was hired by the Brazilian government to carry out work to fix the Barra do Rio Grande, with a depth of ten meters, the construction of two converging jetties and a new port for the city.
After organizing a company that would build and explore the site for 70 years, the engineer was unable to obtain funds in the United States to carry out the work. With this, the Compagnie Française du Port du Rio Grande do Sul was created in Paris, which with European capital built the jetties and the new port two years later. On March 1, 1915, at around 5:30 pm, the training ship Benjamin Constant, from the National Navy, with a draft of 6.35 m, crossed Barra.
The vessel docked at the Porto Novo pier an hour later. On November 15 of the same year, the first section of Porto Novo pier was inaugurated, with a length of 500 meters, which was soon handed over for operation. In 1979, by dredging the Barra access channel for ships with a draft of up to 12 meters and incorporating the expansion area, broad prospects for growth and development of the Port of Rio Grande were opened. Currently, among other changes, port operations are carried out entirely by private port operators. In 1996, the Superintendency of the Port of Rio Grande was created.
The agency emerged with the aim of managing the site, as executor of the Delegation of the Union of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, the current situation of the Rio Grande port complex, whose vocation is to be a major hub for Mercosur cargo. In 1997, an agreement was signed that delegated the administration and exploration of the ports of Rio Grande, Pelotas and Porto Alegre to the State, for another 25 years, a delegation that was extended in advance in 2021 for the same period. With this, in May last year the public company, Portos RS, was created.
The change in legal nature was an important step to provide more security in port activities in the State, as it guaranteed more professionalization and the certainty of necessary investments, since the resources began to be concentrated in the company’s cash flow. This measure in a year and a half guaranteed around R$350 million in investments. Professionalized management allows for future planning, when the State intends to become a reference in the development of renewable energy.