Ecuador’s Finance Ministry transferred $9.9 million to the city of Cuenca on Monday for tram construction. The ministry said that another $10.1 million for the project would be delivered by the end of February.
Delivery of the money had been delayed due to the government’s financial liquidity problems. The ministry said that after the $10.1 is paid, future payments will be made on time.
Tram project director Gerard Fernandez said the funds would go to accelerate construction in the historic district where residents and store owners have complained about slow progress. He said the number of project laborers in the district would increase from 200 to 500.
Also on Monday, the city received $460,000 from a private import firm to speed up work on Av. España. The money is part of an estimated $5 million that businesses on the street say they will loan the city to maintain the construction schedule. The short-term loans will be under-written by the federal government.
In addition, Cuenca Mayor Marcelo is negotiating with the French government for $35 million, much of it for work not included in the original project budget. Several city council members have objected to the proposed loan, saying city debt is already at maximum levels. Cabrera responds that he will ask the Ecuadorian transportation ministry for reimbursement.
Cuenca Deputy Mayor Ruth Caldas worries that late payments from Quito mean the tram project will not finish on schedule. “There is a price to pay for the delayed receipt of money, and it is time,” she says.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of July, beginning full operation in late October.
Fernandez says that for now, the project can make up lost time and remain on schedule. “I can’t rule out scheduling problems if future payments are not delivered on time,” he said.