City gets loan commitment to complete tram
Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera announced Saturday that he has commitments from private banks for a loan of $24 million needed to complete the tram project. The loan will be secured by former military facilities donated to the city in 2015 by the ministry of defense. In two auctions, the city has been unable to sell the Cayambe army base and the Portete artillery range and is considering subdividing the land to sell in smaller parcels. The properties consist of about 10 hectares and are valued at $25 million. As a condition of the loan, participating banks will be involved in developing the subdivision plans for the property.
In other tram news, Cabrera said that work is on schedule for completion in late October. According to the schedule, the system will undergo three months of testing before it opens to the public early next year.
School starts today for 1.9 million students
Today is the start of classes for almost two million students in Ecuador’s sierra and Amazon region. The new school year will see changes to the curriculum as well as new rules for homework, dress and the weight of student backpacks. Minister of Education Fander Falconí says that 2018-2019 will see more emphasis on international and language studies as schools add new courses on modern history, international business as well as English and Mandarin.
Among new rules are limits on the amount of homework that can be assigned, says Falconi, explaining that schools are adopting world-wide rules that limit after-school assignments. In addition, the weight of student backpacks this year cannot exceed 10% of the body weight of students in grades one to seven or 15% of body weight for students in grades eight to 12.
Work on San Francisco Plaza nears completion
The remodeling of San Francisco Plaza should be complete in October, according the city project manager. The work on Calle Padre Aguirre between Juan Jaramillo and Presidente Cordova, limiting traffic and widening sidewalks, will be complete by September 15. The Padre Aguirre project includes the addition of large planters and seating areas on the southern approach to the plaza.
In the plaza itself, surfacing has been completed with the central fountain, planters and vendor kiosks remaining to be added.
Saturday earthquakes cause no damage
A 4.9 magnitude earthquake Saturday night south of Guayaquil and a 4.1 quake early Sunday morning in Esmeraldas Province caused no major damage, Ecuador’s risk management office reports. The Saturday night quake, felt in Guayaquil, Biblián, Guaranda, Portoviejo, Cuenca, Azogues and Riobamba occurred on a coastal fault at a depth of 36 kilometers, the Geophysical Institute reported. The Esmeraldas quake was felt in Pedernales, Jama, Muisne, Esmeraldas and Atacames.
Moreno looks to expand trade with Japan
President Lenin Moreno is in Japan today hoping to establish new markets for Ecuadorian-made products. He will also attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ecuador and Japan. Minister of Finance Richard Martínez and Minister of Foreign Trade Investment Pablo Campana are accompanying the president on the trip as well as a group of business entrepreneurs.