Signed in February 2019, the concession contract to the private sector of the Itatiaia National Park, on the border between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, has been breached since the company that won the event enters into judicial reorganization.
The conservation unit was the third to be granted to the private sector after approval of the federal law that made the legislation for the concession of services in protected areas more flexible , in 2018.
The contract signed between ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for the Preservation of Biodiversity) and Hope Human Resources, winner of the bid, provided for a series of improvements during the first two years of the concession, but almost nothing was done.
Signing of the agreement, which provides for investments of R$ million for 25 years, was marked by a ceremony with the presence of the then Minister of Environment, Ricardo Salles, in the national park , accompanied by the p ICMBio resident, Adalberto Eberhard.
About two years after winning the bid, according to ICMBio, the company claimed financial difficulties as a result of the Covid pandemic-19, which led to the closure of the park.
Among the obligations provided for in the contract, were the renovation of the park entrance, the viewpoint of Last Adeus and the bridge of the Blue Lake. The company is currently negotiating the contractual collection of approximately R$ 3 million in fines.
In 2020, in the first year of the pandemic, the Itatiaia National Park had 25, 2 thousand visitors, almost three times less than in 150, when 48, 4 thousand people passed through the place. Management estimates that the park will receive 140 thousand to 150 thousand visitors in 2022.
The only benefits implemented by the company, according to ICMBio, were the updating of the official website, which now houses an online ticket sales system, and the partial installation of the signage project.
At the time of the bidding process, the choice of the company was the target of criticism, as it did not have experience in park management. Hope Human Resources was investigated by the th phase of the Lava Jato operation, after being cited in an award-winning statement as the beneficiary of a bid-directing scheme from Petrobras.
The article tried to contact those responsible for Hope Human Resources, but there was no return.
A Sheet found that the company Parquetur is the main company interested in taking over the administration of the national park and has already sent representatives to visit the facilities. The report also sought the company, but there was no response.
According to the director of the park, Luiz Gonzaga Barbosa Aragão, there is a risk that the concession contract will be repeated if the concessionaire is not acquired by another company interested in the business.
“If that happens, we will have to wait another two years for another contract to be signed and the improvements actually started”, he says.
Among the improvements most expected by visitors and residents of the surrounding area is the paving of the road at Garganta do Registro, which gives access to the upper part of the park. The approximately 20 kilometers take almost an hour to cover by car due to the poor state of conservation of the asphalt.
The concession contract also provides for the long-term installation of attractions such as zip lines and the construction of a shopping center at the entrance to the park.
The only work in progress within the park is carried out by the state-owned company Furnas, which has an environmental compensation contract for maintaining a data transmission antenna on top of a hill inside the park.
To compensate for the environmental impact of the equipment, the state-owned company is obliged to do so improvements at the site, such as the construction of a new shelter for visitors, whose works are still at an early stage.