National business newspaper Portafolio reports that the study “System of cities” of the World Bank and Colombia’s National Planning Department revealed the underdevelopment of the country’s road system. According to the study, apart from the usual traffic jams in cities, there is a notable lack of connectivity between them. In addition, the study states that “if Colombia had the quality of infrastructure of Costa Rica, economic growth could be up to 3 percent higher.”
Mintransporte Cecilia Alvarez-Correa announced road infrastructure investments planned by the government for next year. (As reported by national business paper La Republica) According to Alvarez-Correa, the government plans to allocate CoP$18 billion (US$9.9B) for infrastructure in 2014, CoP$11 billion more than in 2012.
According Fedesarrollo (as reported by national business newspaper Portafolio), low investment and the low quality of the roads make it difficult to Colombia being competitive in transport. Moreover, the government lacks information about 86% of the country’s roads which makes it impossible to know what is their condition.
Many Colombian news sources picked up a BBC story about Qatar investing its oil wealth in building a knowledge-economy. That so many picked up it meant a number of news editors thought it suggested a different approach to using royalties. That got us thinking as well.
The Colombian press reports that President Juan Manuel Santos has announced a CoP $900B (US$496M) investment in a sector of the route Bogotá – Villavicencio. The investment will be carried out to improve traffic flow on this route. Work on this stretch will begin in 2013. Another CoP$800B will be invested on a route linking the municipalities of Cáqueza and La Calera with Bogotá.
Ecopetrol announced that it transferred a package of assets to its subsidiary Cenit, a hydrocarbons transport company, in exchange for 45,582,982 shares. This contribution is part of a corporate reorganization in the hydrocarbons transport and logistics business line of Colombia’s national oil company, Ecopetrol.
RCN Radio has been giving considerable coverage to the problems of Meta, not always with a positive view towards the hydrocarbons industry. Last week however, it wrote an article on the drive from Bogota to Villavicencio with an objective mindset. This route is used heavily by tanker trucks moving crude from the Llanos to ports and refineries and, on the return leg, naphtha as a diluent to the fields. The report makes it clear there will not be a solution to congestion and dangerous accidents anytime soon and that there could be short-term consequences for the industry.
The main road from the Llanos Basin to the central part of the country is only two lanes and extremely narrow at various points. Tanker trucks carrying crude from the fields and returning with naphtha for dilution clog up the roads. There have been accidents and some deaths. See our earlier article here. Work was supposed to have started on widening the most complicated portions but that is still generating controversy.
The head of the Colombian Transporters Confederation, Jorge Ignacio Garcia, told RCN Radio yesterday that the association’s 50,000 members had “turned off their motors” indefinitely because of a CoP$76 (US$0.04) increase in the price of a gallon of gasoline and CoP$111.60 (US$0.06) per gallon of diesel fuel. In Bogotá, the price of a gallon of diesel is US$4.58. (Unusually for a country which otherwise uses the metric system, gasoline prices are quoted per US gallon which is about 4 liters.)
Respected alternative Internet-based news site La Silla Vacia reports that the mayors of Villavicencio (Meta) and Alan Jara, the governor of the department of Meta, are considering civil disobedience to get the government’s attention on the problem of tanker trucks in the route Bogotá-Villavicencio. (The article is the fourth down the page.)
This route is essentially the only way to get from the country’s center to the economically important state of Meta and so all commerce travels by truck by this highway. Although portions are four-lane and much work has been done to improve transit times, the improvements come through tunnels and viaducts that are often two-lane.