City to add 42 bike lanes in 2021; IESS updates appointment cancellation policy; Loja is most expensive city; Flooding prompts state of emergency

Dec 28, 2020 | 1 comment

Although spending on most large capital projects will be reduced in 2021, funding for bike lanes and trails will increase, Cuenca’s infrastructure office said Friday. In addition to 42 new bike lanes, trails and paths, the city will make improvements to at least 70 existing bikeways. In total, $37 million has been budgeted for the projects, the result of a transportation loan from the Latin American Development Bank.

Construction of new bike lanes and trails is part of the city’s master transportation plan.

“We are putting a priority on biking as part of the city’s overall plan to encourage alternative types of transportation,” says Mauricio Ochoa, director of the city infrastructure office. “We want to get people out of private vehicles and biking, the tram and walking are part of the plan to decongest the city.” He added that in 2022 and 2023, money will be allocated to extend and repair city sidewalks.

Among the new bike paths and lanes to be constructed are ones along the Rio Machángara greenway, from Calle de la Bandera Nacional to the end of the greenway in the Los Eucaliptos sector; from the northern Panamericana highway to San Pablo de Lago; from Av. Pumapungo to Calle Rayoloma; and from Curtación Plaza to the bridge over Rio Milchichig.

IESS updates medical appointment policy
Following years of member complaints of medical appointments being cancelled at the last minute or delayed for months, Ecuador’s Social Security system says it is revamping its appointment policy. According to IESS president Jorge Wated, most cancelled appointments must now be rescheduled the same day if another specialist is available to see the patient. In cases in which a specialist is not available, appointments must be rescheduled within five days.

“We are aware of the annoyance and disruption cancellations cause our members and have discovered that some of our medical staff is being less than professional in postponing appointments, sometimes for weeks or even months,” he said. “We are shifting the burden of rescheduling from our members to the IESS staff and institutions.”

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Loja is most expensive city
Loja is Ecuador’s most expensive city according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census. The INEC reports that the basic cost of living for a family of four is $741 in Loja in 2020 compared to $732 in Manta, the city with the second highest cost of living. Guayaquil comes in third in the survey at $730 followed by Cuenca at $728 and Quito at $720.

Saturday flooding left large amounts of debris along the shore of the Rio Pungohuayco.

Flooding prompts state of emergency declaration in Chordeleg
The municipal council of Chordeleg has declared a 15-day state of emergency due to damages caused by heavy rains and flooding on December 25 and 26.

The council reports that overflow from the Rio Pungohuayco and other tributaries in the canton have flooded homes, roads and farmland, causing millions of dollars of damage. According to a council spokeswoman, much of the damage was the result of debris blockages in ravines the drain into the Pungohuayco. When the blockages released, the river was unable to contain the excess flow causing it to flood nearby areas, killing livestock in some cases.

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