By Juan Pablo Lievano
The emergency of Rosas (Cauca) on the Pan-American highway is a common occurrence in Colombia. Our topography is rugged and the mountainous terrain always suffers in winters. Rosas is especially worrisome, since there are no suitable alternate routes to divert the flow of passengers and cargo. Therefore, the department of Nariño has suffered in a special way due to the landslide. At this time there is a shortage of various products.
Prices have risen rapidly due to the supply restriction, which will also generate additional inflationary pressures in the region. Similarly, the inflationary rise in transportation services is expected to be higher than in the rest of the country. Of particular concern is the supply of gasoline and diesel in the region and the incidence that the shortage of products will have in contraband that will be generated from Ecuador. The truth is that the country’s main roads in many regions are still not up to what they should be.
One only has to look at the Bogotá – Girardot road, which still works with a single lane in many critical sections, not to mention how deficient the Popayán – Pasto road is. Everything that Nariño and Cauca are suffering would be avoidable if there were adequate alternate routes. The reality is that they are very precarious and insufficient for a country that decided to depend on land transportation. We must be clear that the responsibility does not lie with this government. The lack of attention to alternate roads in the southwest and southeast has been evident for decades. For Huila, for example, the famous Neiva-Mocoa Route is still a promise in development. In addition, it will be insufficient in a few years, since it does not include real large expansion works.
Also, the roads to Popayán, south of Huila, are still precarious. Pure promises and no realities, as one of the guides from the archaeological park of San Agustín once told me. And let’s not even talk about the Mocoa to Pasto road, where a trip lasts 5 hours and you have to go through the famous “Devil’s Trampoline”. This can’t go on. The national government must make a medium-term plan for the real connection, through main and alternate roads with good specifications, that adequately connect Neiva, La Plata, Pitalito, Mocoa, Pasto and Popayán with Ecuador. No more promises, because the ways require realities. On the other hand, the Government, instead of using the resources of the tax reform in its development, will dedicate them to subsidies.
Totally harmless to subsidize tolls, which will cost around 800 billion pesos a year, and 50% of the SOAT for motorcycles and other vehicles, which will cost “only” 2 billion a year. Let us hope that the Government quickly and diligently resolve the situation in Rosas (Cauca), either through a maritime “bypass” or the construction of a section of the road that surrounds the landslide, since the interruption of trade with Ecuador is worrisome. and the losses for businesses, the region and the country are substantial.