PPPs: new hope for Brazil

On Tuesday, August 15, Paulistanos woke up and let out a collective groan. Their fears for the day were well grounded. A planned subway strike would soon lead to crippling jams throughout the city. At its worst, the congestion caused tailbacks totalling 180 kilometres. Perhaps the only beneficiaries were the media which covered the strike in painstaking detail. The São Paulo Metro workers’ union had called the action to protest the state government’s decision to pick a private sector consortium for the construction of a new metro line behind closed doors. The government was using a technique that is as yet untested in the country, a public-private partnership (PPP). The strike and its ability to bring the city to a grinding halt illustrate both the scale of the challenge facing Brazil’s government in improving its infrastructure and the battle it faces in persuading the public that co-opting the private sector is the best way forward.

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