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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 01:48 AM EDT

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Gas Going Up Again on Saturday (Tank Up Now)

Cars & TransportationAs of this Saturday, 25 August 2012, 95 octane gasoline will rise to $4.43 per gallon, while 91 octane will rise to $4.01 per gallon. Low sulfur diesel will increase 20 cents to $3.88 per gallon. These prices will apply to the provinces of Panama and Colon, and will be in effect until 7 September 2012. (Telemetro)
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Electronic Card Payment Becomes Mandatory On Southern Corridor - 1 September 2012

Cars & TransportationTo expedite traffic on the Southern Corridor starting in September 2012 everyone will be required to use the electronic payment card. Administrators of the National Highway Company have been announcing this measure for months, because it saves time in transit while paying tolls. The goal is to eliminate payments made with cash. In March 2012 only 30% of Southern Corridor users were using the electronic payment cards. The National Highway Company announced the traffic management plan on Tuesday. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Charly called the management office of the Southern Corridor to ask for clarification. This new plan will become effective as of 1 September 2012. Their telephone number is 226-0433, extensions 2319 or 2320. Their office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on Saturdays from 8:00 am until 12:00 noon. You can also reach them via email - siamep@ica.com.mx.

Starting on 1 September 2012 you will be able to pay the tolls on the Southern Corridor using;

  • 1. The "Sur Express" electronic reader placed on your windshild of your vehicle. These are only sold at the Delta gas station located at the Chanis exit. In order to get one you will need a copy of your cédula and a credit card (VISA or MasterCard). You make an initial deposit of $15.00 dollars, and you fill out a form authorizing them to make direct charges to your credit card in order to "recharge" the electronic reader automatically, when your account gets down to a certain level.

  • 2. You can purchase a prepaid card from any toll booth operator anywhere on the route.

Both forms of payment will be in operation starting 1 September 2012. It's important to note that if someone finds themselves in a situation without funds in their electronic Sur Express or prepaid Corredor Sur card, or if they do not possess either, then they will still accept cash payments.

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Increase In New Car Sales Impacting Panama City Traffic Woes

Cars & TransportationTravelling by car through the streets of Panama City could become a mission impossible, especially during "rush hour", because of the increase in the number of vehicles on the road, which coincides with the road realignment project and the construction of the new metro subway system, which have reduced the number of available roadways.

Auto sales in Panama have also increased 7% from the previous year through July. So far this year 27,142 new vehicles of different brands have left the dealerships. It is estimated about 3,870 cars are sold per month on average according to the Automobile Dealers Association of Panama (ADAP).

This increase in the number of cars circulating in Panama City is having a significant direct impact on traffic, which has caused the collapse of road infrastructure, said Halmann Irvin, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Panama (CCIAP).

Halmann said the CCIAP has put forward a proposal based on three points. They suggest that delivery trucks should make their deliveries during non peak hours, because doing it at night makes for a more complicated process. Their plan also envisaged the creation of loading and unloading zones within critical areas, to be developed together with the Mayor of Panama City. Finally, they called for cars that are parked illegally to be immediately towed.

This proposal did not prosper meetings held and attended by representatives of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority, the Ministry of Public Works, and representatives of the Union of Industrialists of Panama and the CCIAP.

Meanwhile, the President of the ADAP Ricardo Cuellas said the growth in auto sales is due in large measure to "the important contribution of bank financing and the high levels of employment in the country," and although he did not know the exact amount of money involved in these sales, he estimates it could exceed $ 500 million.

Both Halmann and Cuellas agreed that the projects implemented by the national government such as the construction of the Metro Line One of Panama, the Road Reorganization, and the implementation of the Metro Bus, will help reduce the traffic jams being experienced in Panama City, and today many of the traffic problems are being caused by the construction of these projects. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The most salient point in this article - new auto sales are increasing because unemployment is way down, salaries are up, and people have more money to spend. Sooner or later all of these construction projects will be finished. Then, the next administration will start new ones, such as the Metro Line 2, and whatever else they can think of to spend public money, to make money on the kickbacks from the contracts.

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Pulled Over For Expired Tags in Panama City (Dash Cam Video)

Cars & TransportationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning I got pulled over by a couple of cops on bicycles in Panama City at a gas station because the tags on my Jeep are expired. They were staked out at an intersection, doing a visual check of cars driving through an intersection where vehicles get backed due to a traffic signal (intersection of Via Argentina and Tumba Muerto, next to the gas station in El Cangrejo.) I pulled into the gas station on the corner to fill up the tank. A bicycle cop rode up next to the passenger side window, pointed out my tags are expired, and asked for my paperwork. I gave it to him, and he told me to pull over to the side and park in the parking lot. At that point I reached up and spun the dash-cam video around to cover the driver's side window and catch the action. I thought he might try to him me up for a bribe in order to get out of the ticket.

The police officer asked for my driver's license, and he asked if I had any outstanding tickets. This confused me a little bit, because at first I didn't understand what he was asking or why. I also wanted to establish my role as the "slightly deaf and not so good Spanish" gringo, in order to get him to speak up (for the video). He said he was going to call my personal ID number in on the radio to be checked in their "pele police" system, to see if I was wanted for anything. I asked him if they don't carry these little handheld "pele police" devices on them anymore (just out of curiosity) and he said they superiors have them, and they call in to do the checks via radio.

At about this time his partner rode up and asked about the expired tags. I told him yup, they are expired, and I don't have the temporary permission to drive around. So, they caught me, had me dead to rights. I just looked at them, and wanted to see if they were going to start playing the "squeeze you for a bribe" game. I also had the dash-cam spun around and was recording the whole exchange. I think the first cop might have spotted the camera at some point, but I'm not sure.

Then the other cop asked me where I work. I told him I'm the owner of a media outlet, a journalist. I played the "Wild Bill" card - saying "remember that Wild Bill guy, I caught him." They asked me if I have a card identifying me as a journalist, and I said no, I am the owner. They said OK, here's your paperwork. Be sure to get your tags updated. And, have a nice day.

Thanks for the warning. As far as I could tell, these guys didn't do anything wrong. The one who was in the wrong was me (expired tags). They let me go with a warning, so thanks. Now I'll get the tags done next week, and that will be that.

This little exercise helped to confirm a couple of things. I didn't know how good the dash-cam video would be in this sort of a situation, and it's great - perfect for a bribery situation. I have it tucked up under the rear view mirror, so I sort of doubt that they saw it, although that's possible. And when I get pulled over and they want to give me a ticket for (whatever), I always just say "OK, write the ticket". I never try to squirm, bullshit my way out of it, indicate I might be willing to pay a bribe, or whatever. I let them do that, if they're going to.

Anyway, here's the dash-cam video of this little exchange, for what it's worth. I suspect they might have let me go because I played the "Wild Bill" card, but who knows. Make sure to keep the license plates on your car up to date or you might get pulled over. Have a great day.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Government Minister Fabrega Says Government Will Honor Commitments With Bus Drivers

Cars & TransportationGovernment Minister, Ricardo Fabrega said today the bus drivers who are members of the National Transportation Board can feel confident they government will comply with the agreements reached with the former Minister of the Presidency Demetrio Papadimitriu, who resigned. Minister Fabrega, who was Director of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority, emphasized that the compensation will go ahead as soon as possible to complete the modernization of the public transport system. "The pact was made with the Government, and not with any one individual on a personal basis," he said. Esteban Rodriguez, leader of the CANATRA, had said the sector was in uncertainty because they were unaware if the government would comply with the compensation, and the management of the funds promised by Papadimitriu to pay for exonerated diesel fuel. (TVN)
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2011 Toyota Prius Gas/Electric Hybrid Car For Sale (Owner is Moving)

Cars & TransportationFor Sale By Owner - Toyota Prius 2011. Gas/Electric Hybrid. Only 5500 km – like new. Purchased less than 1 year ago. You can drive to David and back on 1 tank of gas! The owner is moving and has to sell this car. $23,500 Call 6675-4210.

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The Northern Corridor Will Pass To The State in September 2012

Cars & TransportationThe process to purchase the Northern and Southern Corridors by the Panamanian government seems to be coming to an end, after a process of more than one year. Thousands of Panamanians who use both roads hope they will be turned into escape valves from the metropolitan traffic facing great challenges, sustained in a vehicular reorganization plan and the construction of the new subway Metro Line 1. The acquisition of the two highways has a cost of approximately $700 million dollars, and the process is in its final stage.

The Southern Corridor was acquired by the National Highway Company SA (ENA), for a price of $420 million in August last year, without affecting the state's sovereign debt because the cost will be paid from tolls charged to users. Given the strong financial performance of the Southern Corridor, the debt could be canceled by 2020 and the Panamanians will be able to use the road for free.

ENA is now preparing to buy the Northern Corridor next September for the amount of $650 million dollars and over a period of 12 years it will be passed unencumbered to the State. The purchase of this highway will not affect sovereign debt, because it is not part of the budget of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. In the case of the Northern Corridor, the situation of debt and free use of it could vary depending on the coupon bond.

Rigoberto Effio, general manager of the National Company of Motorways, SA, said the buying process to buy both the Northern and Southern corridors is ongoing, and for that reason they are in compliance with the purchasing structure approved by the Cabinet Council, under Resolution #33 of 3 April 2012. According to Effio, this is a process that requires signing a series of contracts, including the views of guarantees required by banks structured by local and international lawyers to conclude the purchase of the Northern Corridor, in a manner that's safe for the Panamanian government.

He said the revenue generated by the corridors during the next 10 to 12 years, will be used exclusively to pay the debt for the purchase of both highways, and to comply with the commitments of operations and maintenance.

The corridors will be managed by two concessionaires: ENA Sur SA and ENA Norte SA, respectively. Responsibility for both concessions will be for the operation and maintenance contracts and other commitments to ensure smooth operation, he added. The company is responsible for instructing the trust to comply with the obligations generated by both corridors, according to a budget approved and regulated by the issuing trust. (Panama America)

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New Highway Will Be Toll Free For Thirty Days

Cars & TransportationThe president Ricardo Martinelli announced that the first thirty days of using the second phase of the Alberto Motta Cardoze highway will be free. The sector that will be free of charge will stretch from Nueva Italia to the Cuatro Altos, said the president at the opening of the expressway. Later, Martinelli moved to the expansion of the Enrique A. Jiménez International Airport in Colon, where he said the gangs who are stealing the lights from the airport are doing a harm to society. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: OK, the new part of the highway will be free for thirty days so people can check it out. And, people are stealing the lights from the airport? Wow, that says a whole lot about their security, eh? These are not gangs, but crack heads who will steal anything they can sell for five bucks to get their next rock to smoke.

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Martinelli Asks Business Owners To Vary Work Hours To Lessen Traffic Jams

Cars & TransportationPresident Ricardo Martinelli today asked business owners to change their work schedules to reduce the traffic jams in the capital. The president said that private enterprise and the government must adopt contingency plans so that in 2013 when the projects are expanded, there are less problems. Martinelli recommended tolerance because the projects are going to be getting larger, and there will be more traffic jams. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Yup, that's right. It's going to get worse. I'm going to start working at night. But hopefully once it's all done, many of the problems will be fixed. With just the Metro subway system there will be about 500,000 people per day underground using the trains, and not on the surface using cars, buses, or taxis. The real solution is to move the jobs out of Panama City.

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Fuel Prices in Panama Drop Again Today, Saturday

Cars & Transportation By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Once again the government of Panama has adjusted fuel prices downward in response to decreasing costs worldwide. The new prices will be implemented as of today, Saturday, 30 June 2012.

  • 95 octane gas will now cost $4.05 per gallon, a decrease of 17 cents per gallon.
  • 91 octane gas will not cost $3.63 per gallon, a decrease of 13 cents per gallon.
  • Diesel will cost $3.40 per gallon, a decrease of 14 cents per gallon.

These new prices will be in effect for the next two weeks, until 13 July 2012. Panama adjusts the rates (the maximum any gas station can legally charge) every two weeks, based on fluctuations in international markets. As a result, the prices for fuel in Panama generally mirror those in the United States, with a bit of a lag in both increases and decreases.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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