New high-test gasolines go on sale; Quito subway without operator; Census scheduled for November and December; Expats arrested in opioid bust

Aug 5, 2022 | 15 comments

The long-delayed Quito Metro subway project faces new delays following the rejection of a management contract signed last week with Colombian and French companies. “This project has been one disaster after another for 12 years and this is just the latest,” said Quito municipal councilwoman Paulina Izurieta. “This surprises no one.”

Quito’s $2 billion Metro subway project faces further delays following the rejection of a management contract.

On Wednesday, the National Public Procurement Service (Sercop) threw out a contract for subway management by Medellin [Colombia] Metro and France’s Transdev, claiming it contained “serious structural inconsistencies,” including a lack of reviews of the contractors’ past performance record or financial records.

“There was no accounting done for cost overruns and inflation,” Izurieta said. “And we have no information about the long-term financial stability of Transdey and Medellin Metro. There is no consideration of responsibility in the case of accidents. How is it possible that a $100 million contract is signed without legal and accounting oversight? Who is running this railroad?”

Sercop’s contract rejection means that the public Quito Metro Company will be required to reopen bids for management services, a process that could take a much as two months.

New gasoline goes on sale next week
Ecuador’s Energy Ministry says that the new 89-octane Eco-plus gasoline will go on sale next week at 68 service stations in Guayas, Esmeraldas and Los Ríos Provinces. The Ministry also announced that the 95-octane Super gasoline, which will replace the current 92-octane Super, will be available in October.

The Ministry says that the Eco-plus and the new Super will be available nationwide by the end of the year. “In addition to providing higher octane and better vehicle performance, these fuels will have reduced sulfur content and be better for the environment,” the Ministry said.

According to a Ministry spokesman, the new gasolines will be sold at market prices, currently estimated to be $3.80 for Eco-plus and $4.90 for Super. “These fuels will have no effect on the price of Extra and Eco, and of diesel, which are fixed by the government at the rates of $2.40 and $1.75 per gallon,” he said.

National census will be conducted in November and December
The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) will carry out a national census between November 7 and December 18 next. Originally scheduled for 2020, the census was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

INEC said there will be major procedural changes in this year’s census process. Unlike previous counts, the 2022 census will not use high school students to conduct family interviews. Instead, the government will train 18,000 census-takers to conduct interviews and evaluate and compile data. In addition, there will be no national lock-down during the census process, as was the case in the last seven censuses.

Another change is the option for residents to fill out census forms online. INEC estimates that 25 to 40 percent of the population will provide information via the internet.

INEC says census data will be released in May 2023.

Expats arrested in drug bust
Two U.S. citizens were arrested Thursday in Quito, charged with transporting drugs to the U.S. from Ecuador. Police say the two men, identified as Alan Dean S. and David W., paid other foreign residents to carry pharmaceutical products in their luggage to Miami. “The opioid products are available over-the-counter at Ecuador pharmacies but require doctors’ prescriptions in the U.S. and Europe,” police said. “We believe the operation also included the transport of illegal drugs,” they added.

According to the arrest report, police confiscated 265 boxes of opioids, 80 grams of a substance believed to be fentanyl and a large bag of mushrooms at David W’s apartment in Quito. Police say Alan Dean S. lives in Cuenca. Both men are legal residents of Ecuador.

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