President Rafael Correa said Saturday in Manta that Cuenca’s tram will be completed and that the federal government will provide an additional $35 million to cover the budget shortfall.
“When the tranvía is completed, it will be one of the most outstanding transportation projects in Latin America,” he said. “It will be the only project of its kind in the entire region and one Ecuadorians will be proud of,” he added.
In previous comments, Correa and the national transportation ministry have said that the city of Cuenca would be responsible for additional money above the $232 million originally allocated for the project. The federal government contributed $180 million with the rest coming from Cuenca and the government of France. Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera has said the city would borrow the money, if necessary, to complete the project.
Correa said that delays in tram construction and funding uncertainty have caused “discomfort and uncertainty” among the citizens of Cuenca. “I want to see the train finished as much as anyone else and the government will help make that happen.”
He added that the federal government is not responsible for construction delays and and budget overruns.
In other comments during his weekly television broadcast, Correa told the political opposition that he may return to Ecuador in 2021 to run again for president. When he leaves office next year, he plans to to accept a university teaching position in Belgium, his wife’s home.
“If the opposition continues its criticism, I may return to prove them wrong,” he said. “I do not want to come back for another term but it is something I might consider.”
He made the comment in response to criticism of the government’s investment in Yachay University and the City of Knowledge, north of Quito. The project, envisioned as a Latin American version of Silicon Valley, has been cited recently by Correa’s political opponents as an example of government waste.