Bogotá Metro Threatened As Colombia’s President Petro Insists On Redesigning Project Into A Subway, Mayor Claudia Lopez Stands Firm
Delays threaten the Metro de Bogotá project due to battles developing between Colombian President Gustavo Petro (above, right) and Bogotá Mayor Claudia López (above, left) over changes in the metro’s fundamental design being pushed by Petro and his administration.
The Colombian Congress has been looking into the changes insisted upon by the Petro administration regarding the Metro de Bogotá project, as Lopez warns of unacceptable delays and cost overruns that Petro’s proposal to rework the metro design from above-ground to a subway would cause.
The dispute about the metro railway has reached Colombia’s Congress, with plans now in flux as discussions on the changes become serious. Congress is also looking into how to protect the current work that has been thus far completed on the project.
The Petro administration has been very insistent about changing the current plans for the Metro de Bogotá, demanding changes and concessions in the contract with the Chinese consortium heading the project. Petro claims that the underground portion will benefit the markets and merchants who would otherwise have to move due to the elevated railway.
Petro has even claimed that the projected cost overruns of the project will not exceed 2 billion pesos, though it is unclear where his office received these figures.
Attorney and former justice minister Enrique Gil Botero, who was hired by the Petro government to study the viability of the changes in the subject, that the project could be changed to an underground railway without forcing a new bidding process to occur, but only in the definition of the layout of the railway and only if both the government and the contractors agree on the changes.
The lawyer also says that if the government proceeds with the new changes, renegotiations on the contract could reach a “very high fiscal cost” for the government, especially with the weaker peso in comparison to the US dollar which may further exacerbate the costs.
Petro and López have been publicly battling over the elevated metro plans, with Petro having choice words about his perspectives on the project, calling the elevated railway “grotesque” and claiming that future generations of Colombians will not be enthralled with the finished product.
“They expropriated Bogota families without having studies. [With a subterranean metro ] , all the properties are valued, including those expropriated by the district . There is no detriment but patrimonial enrichment,” Petro tweeted.
Petro has also argued that the revision and changes being proposed were done in a legal manner, tweeting, “In the tender documents for the metro, the draft of the contract presented never forced the elevated metro, the clause was added later, therefore the modification of the contract is absolutely viable, as was done with the El Dorado airport.”
Petro’s Minister of Transportation Guillermo Reyes has even to pull funding from other projects in Bogota if López does not comply with the proposed revisions of the government, including the Regional Tram del Norte, Calle 13, and the Avenida Longitudinal of the West (ALO SUR)
“If they are not accepted as has been said, the proposed modifications are made within the legal framework, then the government too, to the extent that it finances 70% of the other projects, well those other projects are going to have to stop,” said Reyes during an interview with W Radio.
Later on, Reyes had to clarify that the statement was not “blackmail,” but that the government would instead “review those projects and commitments.”
“Bogotá is not going to run out of metro, nobody has stopped the financing. We are discussing the possibility of financing,” he continued.
For her part, López has refused to halt the construction process of Line One of the Metro de Bogotá and seems very firm in ensuring that the project will remain a fully-elevated railway instead of one that may be underground.
Above photo of Bogotá’s mayor Claudia Lopez and Colombian President Gustavo Petro traveling together to the meeting of Colombian capital cities in Guaviare credit: Andrea Puentes – Presidencia de la República