Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera’s latest explanation for why the signing of the tranvía has been delayed was not enough to keep dozens of business and property owners from blocking Av. Las Americas Thursday.
The protestors say they will ask the Ministry of Public works, directed by former Cuenca mayor Paul Granda, to assume control of the project. “The deception and the lies that have caused these delays are unacceptable,” said Daniel Redrovan. “This project has broken our businesses and caused great damage to many lives and it is time to make a change.”
On Wednesday, Cabrera expanded on his Monday explanation that the signing of the project management contract with the French consortium ACTN, when he said that “technical details” remained to be worked out. Cabrera said that the contract, scheduled to be signed on Monday will be signed October 25, but said that depended on the resolution of several issues.
The primary issue to be resolved, Cabrera said, is a payment dispute with the CITA consortium that was contracted to install train rails. CITA claims they had to cease operations when the city of Cuenca fired the former project manager, the Spanish CCRC consortium. CITA says it was not compensated for its losses. Complicating the matter further, is the fact that the Alstom Corporation that manufactured tram rolling stock and the rails, is part of both the CITA and the ACTN coalitions.
According to Cabrera, daily talks are underway with CITA to cover their loses, which the city does not dispute. ACTN says the CITA claim must be satisfied before it will sign the new contract.
Another matter holding up the contract signing is that Ecuador’s Attorney General’s office must review a draft to certify that it meets federal criteria.
“We are working hard on these issues and are confident we will reach resolution very soon,” Cabrera said Thursday. ACTN has no major problem with the contract and is eager to begin work.”
Meanwhile, protestors insisting that the feds assume management of the tram project picked up support from at least one municipal councilman. Cristian Zamora called the delays “inconceivable and outragious” and said he shared the feeling of businesses harmed by the long delays. “Something has to change within the management structure,” he said. “We need to bring this nightmare to a conclusion.”