Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera pledged on Thursday that he will complete the city’s $240 million tram project. “I give my word that I will finish the project,” he said, adding that his reputation hangs in the balance.
Cabrera has toured tram construction areas several times since several construction deadlines were missed last week in the historic district and the tram project manager resigned. In a Thursday morning interview with La Voz del Tomebamba radio, he asked for patience from citizens and said he would take a “hands-on” role with the project.
The mayor said his immediate attention is on finishing work in the historic district, where business owners and resident have complained bitterly about missed deadlines and losses of sales. According to the city ombudsman, who is monitoring the construction schedule, 11 deadlines were missed between April 11 and Mary 10. The deadlines had been established by Gerard Fernandez, former tram project manager, who resigned May 2.
Although a city spokesman said overall project completion has been pushed back until January 2017, Cabrera said he is still talking to contractors and a firm finish date has not been established. Several contractors have requested schedule extensions.
In addition to missed deadlines, the project has been plagued by late payments owed by the federal government for the tram. Cabrera says the city can obtain private financing if necessary to cover the shortfall on a temporary basis.
“I’m putting my personal political history and reputation on the line with the tram and will see the project to completion,” Cabrera said.