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Trucking Brazil's riches: The long, brutal haul from farm to port in Brazil

Nacho Doce / Reuters

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 in Alto de Araguaia, Brazil, on Sept. 24.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

Truck driver Marcondes Mendonca waits for entry to a parking lot before unloading his cereal grain freight at Brazil's main ocean port in Santos on Sept. 20, 2012.

Reuters reports: When Marcondes Mendonca hauls corn from Brazil's farm belt to port in the distant south, the young trucker prays for protection from potholes, drugged and dangerous drivers, and squalid toilets during the seven-day journey ahead.
He also braces for hassles of a different sort: traffic bottlenecks, backlogs at port and bureaucracy that increasingly slow goods and services across Latin America's largest country. Together, the problems amount to one of the biggest challenges facing an economy whose growing might as an exporter of food, raw materials and other commodities is hobbled by a lack of basic infrastructure. Along with waste in the country's tax, labour, education and regulatory regimes, limits on roads, rail and other infrastructure are a historical handicap for Brazil's economy, the world's sixth biggest. Now barely growing after a year of stagnation, Brazil is again falling far short of its potential. 

 

Nacho Doce / Reuters

Truck driver Geraldo drives along the dangerous highway BR-163, also known as the as the "Highway of Death," in Lucas do Rio Verde, Brazil, on Sept. 28, 2012.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

Truck driver Ediban Tardoni sits on a chair with his son Thablio Tardoni, 6, as he waits to unload his truckload of cereal grain at a rail terminal in Alto de Araguaia, Brazil, on Sept. 24, 2012.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

A truck driver drives passes shipping containers and an image of Christ the Redeemer after he unloaded his freight of cereal grain at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos, on Sept. 20, 2012.

A cap hangs from a cross alongside highway BR-163, also known as the "Highway of Death" in Lucas do Rio Verde, Brazil, on Sept. 28, 2012. More than 1,200 truckers died on Brazil's federal highways last year, according to police data. To dissuade drug use and reduce the death toll, the government recently mandated rest periods for truckers for the first time.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

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

Nacho Doce / Reuters

A truck driver sleeps in a hammock during a break at a truck stop along highway MS-306 in Chapada do Sul, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2012. To reduce the death toll on Brazil's highways, the government recently mandated rest periods for truckers for the first time. Employed truckers who drive most of the truck miles covered in Brazil are now restricted to eight hours at the wheel per day, but self-employed truck owners can press on for 13.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

A petrol 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, Brazil, on Sept. 27, 2012.

Editor's note: Photos made available on Nov. 1, 2012.

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