The Minister of Transportation, Guillermo Reyes, spoke with EL NUEVO SIGLO about the current situation of the Pan-American Highway after what happened in Rosas (Cauca) and how alternate highways are. In the same way, he referred to the issue of tolls and what will happen to the navigability of the Magdalena River. He stressed that he will meet with the president and the mayoress to learn about the studies of a possible undergrounding of a section of the Bogotá Metro.
THE NEW CENTURY: What is the current situation of the Pan-American Highway after the tragedy that occurred in Rosas, Cauca?
WILLIAM REYES: We have an alternate route or an emergency corridor, which is the tertiary route between Rosas, La Sierra and resumes the Panamericana. There are 30 kilometers of alternate track. We are already there with Invías machinery, creating conditions for a freight corridor. That road is closed and we hope today, Sunday, to rehabilitate it, and that it admits or accepts the passage of many vehicles.
We have four banks of machinery on that road and it is expected that in about 30 days it will be enabled for cargo trucks, and we are going to look for it to be able to admit tanker trucks with milk and some basic necessities next week.
We are building a 1.8 kilometer variant that would be for cargo vehicles. This is relatively close to the points where the road was affected by the landslide. Those would be 1.8 kilometers of track and 80 meters of bridge, above the ravine that is in the area. And that one already has two days since it began to be built and it is expected to also enable a human corridor and for motorcycles, to bring some food and other products to the area. We are also setting up an alternative corridor through El Tambo, with a slightly longer route, about 70 kilometers, but it is an alternate route, and in relation to the San Francisco-Mocoa we are working with Invías to be able to set up cargo trucks towards Mocoa and Neiva.
The other is the Pasto-Popayán highway, which is the variant that leaves from Timbío, and goes through Popayán-Timbío, Timbío-El Estanquillo, which is the part affected today by the landslide, and from there the Pan-American highway resumes, which going to rehabilitate some dual carriageway routes. We are in the process with the ANI of elaboration, technical structuring and studies, and we could print a speedy procedure, so that by the end of this year it would already be starting to be built.
ENS: And what about those roads that have also been affected, like the one in Rosas, by landslides…?
GR: Many, we have many affected primary roads. Last week we received a list of primary and concession roads whose situation is quite chaotic, with holes, and some of them are in deplorable condition, including the Ruta del Sol, roads such as those that link Pereira with Quibdó, Riosucio with Quibdó. We have roads in the department of Putumayo, such as San Francisco-Mocoa. We are going to prioritize these roads with the resources that Invías has, and we are going to request resources in the budget addition to be able to comply with a program that we are going to present and prioritize in repair, and I am analyzing the possibility of applying differential rates to those roads affected where there are tolls, while they are duly rehabilitated.
ENS: How is the topic that is being opened about the technical-mechanical revision in the automotive centers going?
GR: The issue of Automotive Diagnostic Centers is a regulation that was approved by Congress and that includes a policy that they have to take out; What we have told them is that we are in the process of regulating the matter and we are going to convene some work groups with the representatives of the centers to examine the scope of this regulation.
ENS: Finally how was the issue of tolls?
GR: Already 99 tolls in charge of the ANI were frozen with the values of the previous year; 16 ANI tolls that had automatic increases before January 15, were left with those increases of 13.8% of the CPI; there are four road projects. And all those from Invías were frozen.
ENS: ¿What people ask is where the money that the different concessions that manage these tolls supposedly already had in their budgets is going to come from?
GR: The first thing is that this additional percentage to the value of the toll implies the value corresponding to the CPI and is paid as the toll is used. What are we going to do here? Those resources close to 750 billion pesos that are frozen are going to come out, as the Minister of Finance said, within the budget addition, and they are going to be recovered with the new source that we are implementing, which is in the law, which is that of the valuation and surplus value, to existing, new and executed projects.
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ENS: What will happen to the price of ACPM (diesel)?
GR: Para lor that there are no increases or readjustments for diesel, what there is is the annual adjustment that is made to the ACPM prices, which was 57 pesos, a single increase. And this will not have, until the month of July, any modification, as indicated by the President of the Republic.
ENS: How is the navigability project for the Magdalena River going?
GR: A couple of days ago, through Findeter we awarded a dredging contract for one month. Now, before February 10, a new dredging contract process for 60 billion must be awarded, until the month of May. The studies are already prepared, we are in the process of socialization to listen to comments, for what is the public works contract for dredging and navigability of the Magdalena River. It is a contract close to 2.5 trillion and that was the PPP that the previous government was unable to carry out twice.
Taxis and the subway
ENS: There is also talk here in Bogotá of a strike by taxi drivers for the next few days. What agreement have you reached with the taxi drivers? Do you plan to have a meeting with that union?
GR: I have been talking with many sectors of taxi driving. Yesterday I was in Cali with them, three days ago in Valledupar. I have had conference calls and I have sent them messages. They have a few requests that we have been working on: the issue of the platforms, social security, biofuels and tariffs, the replacement of the vehicle fleet, and I have told them that I see no reason to call a stoppage, because the Government has already announced the bill that we are going to file on the sanctioning regime, which implies the reform of the Superintendence of Transport, where there is a chapter on platforms and illegality in the provision of public transport service, which He touches on the issue of taxis, of course, and the Government’s position is clearly established there. Yesterday I issued a press release and stated what the government’s position was. Now, the problem with taxis is that each department has at least three unions. Business unions, drivers’ unions… I think there may be lots of groups of taxi drivers; So there are some who want to go on strike just because, because the truth is that the Government has indicated the position they want and that the taxi drivers have been requesting, of course, within the framework of legality and in the fight against illegality. So I would not understand what the purpose of the strike is, if in the face of the gasoline issue it was agreed that the compensation that the Government was going to give was a 50% reduction in SOAT.
ENS: How is the Bogotá Metro going?
GR: We are hoping, once the president returns from abroad, not only from Davos but from other trips he has planned, that we can hold the meeting with the mayor and the Chinese company, and the mayor will give us the request that the president made, for the study of costs-time of what would be the undergrounding of a part of the layout in Caracas of the Bogotá Metro, Line 1.