In town for the inauguration of Cuenca’s independence celebration, Ecuador’s ministers of finance and public works said the city’s beleaguered tram project will be completed.
The pledge of support seconded President Lenin Moreno’s assurance given in June.
Following a meeting with Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, Finance Minister Carlos de la Torre and Transport and Public Works Minister Paúl Granda said that the project would be completed, “no matter what it takes.”
What it takes will cost significantly more than originally estimated, Granda says. “We are looking at an additional cost of $76 million to finish the project,” he said, adding that inflation and project changes have increased the original $232 million price tag. Granda, who was mayor of Cuenca when the project began, and who was defeated by Cabrera in the 2015 election, says he has a personal responsibility to see the project to a successful conclusion.
“Despite all the problems, one day soon the tranvía will be a system that all Cuencanos will be proud of,” Granda said. “It will be part of a model transportation project not just for Cuenca and Ecuador, but for all of South America.”
Granda added that a United Nations delegation of transportation experts will visit Cuenca later this year, providing project assessment and guidance to finish the job. He also said that BanEcuador and Banco del Pacífico will provide loans to make sure cash flow is not a problem. The city is negotiating sale of the Cayambe army base that was donated by the government to help with construction costs but no closing date has been announced. The sale will net between $20 million and $24 million, Granda says.
Cabrera said on Tuesday that the final hurdle has been cleared to sign a project management contract with a French consortium but did not give a date.”I can tell you this for certain,” he said during an interview on Radio Tomebama, “The work will be finished in 2018.”