Cuenca transportation officials meet today with business owners who are asking that the tram construction schedule be changed for the holiday season. The business owners claim that construction will severely limit their holiday sales and put some of them out of business. Some say they will stage protests to stop construction if their demands are not met.
The businesses affected are on Gran Colombia in the historic district and on Av. Las Americas between Avs. Unidad Nacional and Mexico.
City transportation chief Gerard Fernandez, who is also director of the tram project, says he will work with owners to minimize business disruptions but says the schedule cannot be changed. Fernandez and his staff worked over the weekend to prepare for today’s meeting.
“We have a deadline of July 2016 to finish the project and we will not meet it if we change the schedule now,” Fernandez says.
Business owners are asking that work in their areas be stopped or delayed until January.
“We are not trying to stop the tram project, we are only asking for a delay so our businesses are not ruined during our most important sales season,” says Romeo Alvarez, who owns a store on Gran Colombia. “This is the time of year we depend on for a profitable year and if access to our businesses is restricted it could kill us.”
Fernandez says he is sympathetic to business owners. “I understand their concerns and we will meet on Monday morning and try to find a solution that is balanced, that has the least impact to merchants, citizens, and the project schedule.”