Although tram construction continues in Cuenca’s historic district, work on the project is at a virtual standstill in other parts of the city.
On Wednesday, the city named Guillermo Argudo new project coordinator, replacing Romeo Moncayo who will continue working in a consulting capacity. Admitting that the job is political a “hot potato,” Argudo said his mission is to “finalize the work as soon as possible and end Cuenca’s long headache.”
According to Moncayo, progress continues in the historic district, as 250 laborers working directly for the city attempt to open all intersections along the train route by the end of December. The work is being conducted under an emergency declaration by Mayor Marcelo Cabrera that continues for another two weeks. Cabrera declared the emergency when negotiations with Spanish project manager Consorcio Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca (CCRC), broke down in late October.
Cabrera says the declaration will probably be extended if an agreement with CCRC is not reached.
“Although we are moving forward in El Centro, overall progress is very slow,” Moncayo admitted. “Project materials have been late arriving but we are making every effort to finish the job by the end of the year.”
Construction on Av. Las Americas, España, and other parts of the tram route have stopped, Moncayo says. “We do not have the expertise to manage all aspects of the work, especially bridge construction,” he said. “We hope problems with CCRC are resolved soon.”
Officials from the city and CCRC continue to negotiate contract differences, although Moncayo says discussions are often acrimonious. Ecuador’s office of attorney general is moderating the talks.
“The differences will be worked out,” Argudo said on his first day on the job Thursday. “The project will be finished and Cuenca will be proud of the finished product.”