Jose Leonidas Menezes Cristino has been named as the replacement for 60 year old Brito at SEP (Secretaria Especial de Portos in Brazilian Portuguese) who has spent the past two weeks briefing Cristino – a 53 year old civil engineer – on what his new job entails. Interestingly, Brito’s briefing included giving Cristino a copy of his book about his time as head of the SEP. Launched in Santos in early December, it probably made an ideal Christmas stocking filler.
Cristino (like Brito), originates from the north-eastern state of Ceara and until recently he was mayor of the town of Sobral (240 km from the capital Forteleza). Also like Brito, he is a member of the socialist PSB party and as part of the “carve up of political spoils” for the winning socialist parties, Rousseff nominated Cristino to head up the ports ministry.
Brito will no doubt have briefed Cristino about the importance of completing the Reais1.5bn (US$885m) Plano Nacional de Dragagem (PND or National Dredging Programme). Even though the programme is not even half completed, with only six dredging projects completed, seven still being carried out and two still in the preparation phase, it is already revolutionising the Brazilian maritime sector by providing an additional 2 to 4 m depth in ports, allowing for larger ships and economies of scale. This in turn is fuelling a demand for bigger ship-to-shore gantry cranes and more supporting equipment.