The Mayor of Bogota, Claudia Lopez, emphasized on her social media that the decision about the city’s metro is not made in China, referencing the president’s ongoing trip to the Asian nation. This trip marks a new chapter in the longstanding dispute between the Mayor of Bogota and the Presidency over the future Bogota metro’s route: underground or elevated.
Just yesterday, upon his arrival in China, the President himself reiterated his commitment to discuss this matter with Xi Jinping, the Chinese President. The construction of the metro in the Colombian capital is being undertaken by a consortium of businesses with Chinese involvement. The current proposed route, advocated by the mayor’s office, is elevated, with the aim of reducing costs and expediting the project’s completion. On the other hand, Gustavo Petro, the current head of state and former mayor of Bogotá, supports an underground route for certain sections of the line.
These disagreements have deep roots, as the current President contends that plans for the underground route were already in place when he left the mayor’s office in 2015.
The Metro and Political Entanglement
Claudia López has pointed out that the President’s party voted against the proposal to make the metro’s passage through the Suba and Engativa districts underground, which are further from the city center. The local leader stated, “The petrismo government program suggests changing a section of Line 1 to underground, potentially delaying the project by a decade and costing an additional 12 trillion.”
Lopez has asserted that the President’s intention in the Asian country may be to propose the suspension of metro construction. The timely completion of this transportation system is of paramount importance to the city, given that the delay has been accumulating for nearly 70 years.
Given this, the Mayor reaffirmed her steadfast commitment to uninterrupted construction. “Bogotá cannot be deceived or sabotaged. The future of the Metro is not decided in China but at the ballot boxes in Bogotá,” Lopez declared, underscoring her determination not to halt construction for the sake of making partial route alterations.
She strongly criticized those she believes aim to delay the anticipated transportation system and firmly defended her construction program. “We are executing the project that was already contracted for Line 1, which is at 25% completion with 4,200 people working on 9 construction fronts.”
“We have also honored our promise, secured the necessary funding, and initiated the bidding process for the execution of the second metro line, which will go underground to Suba and Engativa, commencing in 2024. The Metro is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity to alleviate traffic congestion and enhance mobility,” concluded the Mayor, who has championed the continuation of ongoing construction projects for months.
The Future Rests with the Incoming Mayor
Under Colombian electoral law, political leaders, including Claudia Lopez, cannot seek re-election. Therefore, the new mayor, who will take office in January 2024 and be elected in the upcoming weekend’s elections, will have the final say on the Bogotá metro’s route.
Although López hasn’t explicitly stated it due to legal constraints, polls suggest she is confident that Carlos Galan will succeed her. Galan supports the current proposed route, making the prospect of a change seem remote, pending the results of President Petro’s meetings in China.