Before meeting with President Xi Jinping, the Colombian president held a meeting with executives from China Harbour Engineering Corporation, which is part of the business consortium currently building the Bogota metro. With the Chinese entrepreneurs, Petro discussed the project to revive the railway network, which has been inactive in Colombia for over 30 years, and the technical options for burying part of Line 1 of the capital’s metro, which is already under construction.
This latter point prompted yet another disagreement with the mayor of Bogotá, who insisted yesterday that “the Bogotá metro is not decided in China.” Claudia López has once again criticized the presidential administration’s intentions to modify part of the route to take it underground.
President Defends the Feasibility of the Underground Metro
“There is technical feasibility, it remains to be seen if there is political feasibility,” President Petro stated after his meeting with the Chinese entrepreneurs working on the project in the Colombian capital.
“With the metro company, there is agreement that technically the first line can be developed in two phases, one elevated and one underground, using the studies that were conducted during my mayoralty and the studies that have been carried out in subsequent mayoral administrations,” said Gustavo Petro, who reiterated the need to construct part of the transportation system’s route underground.
“It would not involve significant delays, it is technically possible, and legally as well. The question is political,” the president added. Likewise, he assured that the mayoralty’s rejection of his proposal is “foolish because the nation wants to finance 100% of this project. The resources that the city would not use could be used for schools, university campuses, hospitals, road development. The most important thing is that a powerful first line for the needs of Bogotá would be realized.”
“Mr. President, don’t insist, the metro is irreversible,” was Mayor Lopez’s response, who supports her Line 1 project, which she says is already 25% complete and elevated. Additionally, the local chief executive stated that by the end of her term next December, the project will be 35% completed, as planned in the work schedule.
In this regard, Claudia López said the president “could have saved himself the trip to China” because those responsible for the project are in Bogotá, not in the Asian country.
Reviving the Railway Network
In the meeting between the Colombian president and the Chinese entrepreneurs, the possibility of developing a national railway network using sections of the old railway tracks, which ceased to function in the early 1990s, was also discussed.
“All the Caribbean ports would be connected: Turbo Coveñas, Tolu, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla… with Buenaventura and Tumaco, on the Pacific. This network could provide us, using international trade, with a national railway network,” the president told the media.
Petro referred to the competition that the construction of various railway lines could pose for the Panama Canal. In this regard, China would position itself as a top strategic partner in Colombia in terms of trade, following its policy in recent years of engaging in business and financial projects in the Latin American subcontinent.