Bus service resumes today; Oil production back to 100%; New Chinese loans in the works; Video surveillance upgraded; New week, new rules

Jun 1, 2020 | 18 comments

Cuenca’s city buses are on the streets this morning for the first time since March 16. The resumption of service follows a weekend agreement between bus owners and city officials. Under rules revised last week by the national Emergency Operations Committee, buses will operate at 50 percent capacity.

A city bus is fumigated Sunday in preparation of the resumption of service on Monday.

“This is an important step in putting Cuenca back to work and to returning us to normalcy,” Mayor Pedro Palacios said at the conclusion of often acrimonious negotiations that began two weeks ago. In the agreement, the city agreed to pay owners a one-cent per ride subsidy agreed to in 2018 as well as for the half fare paid by students, the elderly and disabled.

In addition, an agreement was reached to change the number 100 bus route that competed with tram. In earlier discussions, bus owners had refused to give up the route without compensation.

Under coronavirus health rules, all passengers must wear face masks and buses will be fumigated daily

Virus update

Ecuador to receive new Chinese loans
Finance Minister Richard Martinez announced Saturday that Ecuador will receive $2.4 billion in loans from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China between June and October. “The loans are crucial in helping our recovery from the coronavirus,” he said. “We plan to keep options open for future loans, if necessary.” He added that the loans will paid through oil pre-sales. In his comments, Martinez said that Ecuador intends to honor a $500 million obligation to the U.S. credit firm Goldman Sachs in September. “This will insure future access to foreign financial resources,” he said.

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Ecuador resumes full oil production
After a month-long shutdown, Ecuador’s Petroamazonas has returned to 100 percent oil production. The oil flow was disrupted in early May due to the rupture of the Trans-Ecuadorian pipeline near the San Rafael waterfall east of Quito. According to Carlos Bermeo Calderón, Petroamazonas general manager, more than 423,370 barrels of oil per day are now flowing from the Amazon pumping stations to the Pacific ports. “During the disruption, only eight percent of capacity was possible so we are happy to be back to full flow.” Calderón added that better days are ahead economically for Petroamazonas as oil prices have risen sharply in recent weeks.

Video surveillance technology is upgraded
Ecuador’s Integrated Security Service ECU 911 is making hardware and software upgrades to its video technology system, including adding more cameras. According to Juan Zapata, ECU 911 director, the improvements will provide more tools to monitor social activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our goal is to protect public health and social stability during the outbreak, which will help the government to establish the policies necessary to combat the disease.” He added that the system will also improve the country’s crime fighting efforts. “The system is the main reason Ecuador’s crime rates have fallen over the last decade. It gives police the tools to respond quickly and has resulted in the conviction of more criminals.”

The upgrades, which includes improvements to facial recognition capability, were carried out by representatives of the Chinese company under contract with the government.

Covid-19 restrictions relaxed beginning today
Although Cuenca remains under yellow light health emergency protocols, changes last week by the national Emergency Operations Committee relax private and public transportation rules. Changes to previous yellow light rules allow private vehicles to operate three days a week, instead of two. Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while those with even numbers can circulate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In addition, urban buses can operate at 50 percent capacity instead of 30 percent, and taxis can operate under the same odd-even daily circulation rules as private vehicles.

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