(Adds details from interview with ATP)
By Roberto Samora and Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, March 7 (Reuters) - Two riverside ports in Pará state could run out of soybeans by Friday due to closures on the BR-163 highway linking the country’s grain belt to port facilities in the north, Daniel Amaral, chief economist at oilseeds group Abiove, said on Thursday.
After days of interruptions caused by rains and heavy traffic in the region, Abiove expects authorities to free soybean truck traffic in the direction of northern ports including the Miritituba terminal by Friday.
Miritituba normally receives about 40,000 tonnes of grains per day during the peak of soy season coming from BR-163, according to Murillo Barbosa, president of private port terminal association ATP.
But road closures due to rain are preventing trucks from unloading agricultural commodities at Miritituba, from where they are sent in barges to the larger Barcarena port before hitting export markets.
The roads have been closed for several days to control the flow of trucks and avoid traffic jams that would block other vehicles on the highway.
Two harvests ago in February, some 2,000 trucks were stranded along the BR-163 in the rainy season. Every year, long lines of trucks form at certain towns in Mato Grosso and Pará state because of BR-163’s poor condition.
Transport authority Dnit said on Thursday truck traffic heading south was being restored on the highway, with more than 1,200 trucks passing through sections of road that were previously blocked.
Traffic in the north direction will gradually return to normal starting Thursday in the state of Pará, Dnit said.
However, trucks which authorities stopped at Guarantã do Norte, in top soy grower Mato Grosso state, will only be allowed to resume their journey in the direction of the northern ports on Friday, Dnit said.
Logistics operator Hidrovias do Brasil SA is one of the most affected by the road closures at Miritituba, ATP’s Barbosa said in a telephone interview.
Hidrovias normally receives 300 trucks at Miritituba per day but starting Tuesday none arrived, Barbosa said.
It would take between one week to 10 days for the company’s operations to return to normal once traffic resumes, he said.
Hidrovias do Brasil did not have an immediate comment. (Reporting by Roberto Samora and Ana Mano Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)