Improvement of Navigation on the Magdalena River

Cormagdalena, governmental manager of the Magdalena River in Colombia, awarded a 13-year concession to NAVELENA, to restore and maintain the navigability in the 908 km long stretch between Puerto Salgar and its mouth at Barranquilla through dredging and river training works. IMDC offered technical assistance to NAVELENA during engineering phase, including analysis and evaluation of studies, designs, and tools related to the concession, and review of all technical documents provided by the designer. Additionally IMDC completed specific tasks, such as dredging equipment inspection, technical evaluation of offers, 2D sediment transport modelling, assessment of geotextile manufacturers and delivering scour-related expertise.

For a long time the Colombian government has shown interest in the use of the Magdalena inland waterway as an alternative for transport of cargo and passengers over the road. The last few years the issue has gained importance and urgency as a result of trade agreements that are being signed with several countries. 

IMDC was commissioned by NAVELENA - Consorcio as Owner’s Engineer for the project to restore the navigability of the Magdalena River.

This contract will allow navigation on the Magdalena River over a length of 908 km between Barranquilla and Puerto Salgar. Among the works to improve the navigability the 650 km between Barranquilla and Barrancabermeja will have to be dredged and new bank protection in another 256 km will have to be designed. This is expected to triple cargo transported per year from 1.5 to 6 million tons.

The scope of IMDC contract is the technical assistance in the studies and designs to improve navigation on the river Magdalena and the review of the design by AECOM.

To do this IMDC provides a technical team in Colombia that is backup-ed by specialists in the Belgian office carrying out the following tasks:

  • Revision and analysis of the predesign verifying that the proposed dredging alternatives meet the contractual requirements and that the presented solutions are viable.
  • Review of the data of aerial photographs, topography, bathymetry and geotechnical surveys.
  • Recommendations for improving the navigability of the river
  • Review and technical recommendations on the engineering designs, the dredging techniques 


  • Client: NAVELENA - Consorcio
  • Start:
  • Completion: