El Centro business owners complain about ‘broken promises,’ secret meetings on tram construction, plan protests

Oct 10, 2016 | 8 comments

Business owners along the tram route in Cuenca’s historic district say they may begin street protests this week. They complain about missed construction deadlines, secret meetings, and a lack of explanation from city officials.

Unfinished sidewalk on Gran Colombia.

Unfinished sidewalk and no workers on Gran Colombia.

“Every day, they miss more deadlines and offer no reasons for it,” says Teresa Bermeo, a representative for historic district business and property owners. “Now, they have stopped construction and are holding meetings behind closed doors that don’t include the people being injured by their incompetence.”

Over the weekend, city officials met with representatives of the Spanish company that is managing the project as well as with officials from Rio de Janeiro, where a project similar to Cuenca’s has recently been completed. As of Sunday night, the city had issued no comment on about the meetings and if they signal any changes for the project.

A representative from the Rio de Janeiro group said on Thursday that the tram project in Rio faced problems similar to those encountered in Cuenca. “We have information about our experience in Brazil to share with the people of Cuenca,” said Cesar Abel Cano. “We believe it will provide guidance for resolving construction problems.”

On Saturday and Sunday, few workers were visible on the tram route in the historic district.

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Bermeo said protests could begin immediately if business owners do not receive a satisfactory explanation from city officials on Monday about the state of the project.

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