Tram project director resigns following criticism for missed deadlines; says his reasons are ‘strictly personal’

May 3, 2016 | 8 comments

Gerard Fernandez, project director for Cuenca’s Tranvía construction, resigned on Monday, saying he was stepping down for “strictly personal reasons.”

Gerard talks to business leaders in October 2015.

Gerard Fernandez talks to business leaders in Oct. 2015.

The resignation follows a week in which the project missed deadlines agreed to with business owners in the historic district, and in which some Cuenca municipal council members publicly doubted the city’s ability to finish the project by the July deadline.

Fernandez, who had held the tram management post for three years, had spent much of his time dealing with complaints from business and property owners, often hosting contentious public meetings.

Since the first of the year, Fernandez had overseen a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week construction schedule in the historic district. The round-the-clock work was intended to complete work on Gran Colombia and Mariscal Lamar that, in some cases, had seen little activity for months. Business owners had complained about street closures and the fact that previous assurances of completion dates had not been met.

According to a new schedule agreed to by Fernandez and business leaders in January, construction was to be completed April 26 in a number of blocks in the historic district. On April 25, Fernandez announced the the deadlines would be missed by “a few days.”

Among the areas where deadlines were missed were Gran Colombia between Tomas Ordonez and Vargas Machuca, Estevez de Toral and between Colonel Talbot and Octavio Cordero, and Abraham Sarmiento between Abraham Sarmiento and Leo XIII.

Later in the week, several municipal council members demanded more information from the Fernandez about the status of tram construction. They claimed that the project could not be finished by July, as planned.

Fernandez and Mayor Marcelo Cabrero responded by saying that the delays were a “matter of days, not months or years.”

William Argudo, director of the city’s planning department, has been named by Cabrero to replace Fernandez.

 

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