Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 05:16 PM EDT

View Printable Version

No Water Today on Calle 50

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) has turned off potable water service in Calle 50, between the "Intelligent Building" and the intersection with Via Brazil. Abilio Pittí, the metropolitan director of the IDAAN, said the shutoff is due to a need to relocate a 10" water main line, necessary as part of the work for the road and traffic construction plan. Water service was turned off at 8:00 am this morning, and will last until 4:00 pm this afternoon. (Critica)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

First Tests Of New Metro Subway System Will Be In August 2013

Infrastructure UpgradesPresident Ricardo Martinelli made an inspection tour of the construction of the new subway station at the 5th of May Plaza for the Panama Metro, and he said the first tests of the Metro system will be conducted in August 2013. He said the new Metro subway system will be operational in December 2013, and riders will be able to travel the length of "Line One" from the District of San Miguelito to Panama City in just 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, Roberto Roy, Secretary General of the Panama Metro, noted that this is the first underground station that will be completed, and the progress made thus far is about 60%, because the floor, walls, and electro-mechanical systems to operate the system still have to be installed. "What is essentially ready is the structure," said Roy. It is expected that the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Marta will reach this point in approximately two months or so, and overall the work on the entire Metro system is about 30% complete.

The President also talked about the government's intention to sell the lands of the Colon Free Trade Zone. He said it might be a good idea to sell the land in the Free Zone and to increase the rent being paid, since the prices currently being paid by owners is not consonant with the reality of the market. "People have objected to the sale of land over political issues, and the sale would be better because it would benefit everybody," said Martinelli.

When asked about the political event held yesterday, Sunday, 25 March 2012, in which Juan Carlos Navarro formalized his candidacy to be the next General Secretary of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Martinelli said they are entitled to their political campaigning, but he is concentrating on the work being done in the country. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Sediments Caused Bad Taste in Drinking Water Supply

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) determined that the strange taste in the water, perceived by some residents of the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, was being caused by sediment in the distribution line. According to the director of the IDAAN Abdiel Cano, due to changes in primary 54 inch pipe, replacing similar parts in the main lines, and the breaks that have occurred due to the work of the Metro, has caused dirt to seep into the system. Cano, who said the bad taste in the water has already been solved, said the complaints lodged by some customers were treated in the field. According to Cano, the complaints from users had no definite pattern, as in some sectors the bad taste was perceived in some homes and not in others.

CHANGES IN PIPES - Because of the work on the Metro, according to Cano, they had to change two kilometers of the main distribution line from the water treatment plant in Chilibre. People have been complaining about the taste of "dirt" in the water since early March. (Siglo)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Southern Corridor Will Be Expanded To Six Lanes

Infrastructure UpgradesPresident Ricardo Martinelli announced on Monday March 19, after expressing the satisfaction he feels over the transaction that allowed the state to buy the Southern Corridor, that soon they would expand the highway to six lanes, a project he described as being "of paramount importance." "It is important that the Southern Corridor, which has lagged behind the increase in traffic, can be expanded to offer a much more fluid traffic flow to all Panamanians," said the President during the official start of construction of section of the Northern Corridor Phase II B, Brisas del Golf - December 24th. On this subject, Rigoberto Effio Morais, the General Manager of the National Highway Company, said the expansion of Southern Corridor should culminate in 2014. "As soon as we have the financing arranged, we are studying several alternatives ... we can then do the bidding and start the project" he said. It is anticipated the expansion to six lanes, to three in each direction for this stretch of road, will be built at a cost of $143 million dollars.

Effio Morais also said they are working with the card technology that will be used to ensure the more expeditious passage of traffic on both the Northern and Southern Corridors. He said he expected the system will be in operation by September 2012, at which time the use of prepaid cards will become mandatory. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Construction Of Elevated Train Station Will Take A Year And A Half

Infrastructure UpgradesThe construction of the elevated Metro train station at the intersection of 12 de Octubre with Via Transistmica will take about a year and a half, as part of the construction of the Line 1 of the new Metro subway system in Panama City. Jose Agustin Arias, the Chief Engineer Advisor of the Secretariat of the Panama Metro, reported the machinery will begin to arrive at the work site on Sunday to start work. He said lane changes and other changes to traffic patterns have been made so that traffic can be as fluid as possible. On Saturday morning they were making the last adjustments in terms of diversions and relocations for the machinery to start working as soon as possible. According to Arias almost 30% of the whole project has been completed, between underground (subway) sections, elevated stations, and tunneling work. He said the problem that had arisen with the TBM "Martha" has been fixed, and it began to work on Friday night. The other TBM "Carolina" that will be used to dig one of the underground sections is in the assembly stage. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: As the new Line 1 of the Metro subway system goes through Panama City, part of it will be underground, and part will be on elevated tracks. This station being discussed in the article is the first elevated station, after the train comes out of the underground tunnel section. The train will run underground from Albrook, all the way under Via España until the "Northern Trench" on Via Transistmica. There it will transition to an elevated track and therefore, elevated train stations. It's an ambitious project. Planning is already underway for Line 2, which will run out to the area of Tocumen. Eventually a spider web of train tracks will link all of the densely populated neighborhoods with the center of the city where most of the jobs are located. Hopefully all of this will have a positive impact (some day) on traffic - reducing the number of vehicles competing for space on Panama's streets.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Work To Extend Northern Corridor Begins On Monday

Infrastructure UpgradesThe work on the project to extend the Norther Corridor from Brisas del Golf until the neighborhood of 24 de Diciembre will formally begin on Monday, 19 March 2012, according to Diego Hernandez Martins, the regional manager of the contractor hired to do the work, the Mexican company ICA. Hernandez explained the extension will be 10.2 km and he said "it is completely new section, which passes through hilly and mountains areas." As scheduled, the work will take two years and the investment is $114 million dollars. As for the projects to speed up the charging system at the toll booths of the Corridors, Hernandez said "we are making a proposal to manage both the Northern and Southern Corridor for a defined period of 5 years which includes an modernization of the toll system." The goal is to "modernize and leave the corridors as first world," said Hernandez. ICA is the same company that built the Southern Corridor, which opened in 2000. (Critica)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

IDAAN Still Doesn't Have A Clue

Infrastructure UpgradesThe complaints continue from residents of some neighborhoods in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito over the taste of water coming from their taps. But despite the complaints, the authorities of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (Idaan) have not detected anything abnormal. The Health Director of San Miguelito, Las Cumbres and Chilibre, Algis Torres, said no contamination has been detected in water quality tests conducted in recent days. He also noted in the different health centers and hospitals in the region there has not been an unusual number of cases reported for diarrhea or other stomach upset caused by the consumption of water. Torres recommended that if the water tastes like dirt, then you should open the tap and let it flow for five minutes, and then consume it. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: And the IDAAN still doesn't have any clue as to why the water tastes like dirt. Which is funny, because it's their job to know these things.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Demand For Electricity in Panama Is About To Outpace Availability

Infrastructure UpgradesThe energy consumption by Panamanians has increased, which means demand is about to exceed the available supply. In 2012 Panamanians will consume a total of 1286.5 MW of energy, a 5.8% increase. This confirms the trend that every year in the country the demand for this type of service increases. However, the net power available, which is the energy available to consumers, is 1320.5 MW, leaving a narrow margin of 34.1 MW to meet the extraordinary needs of the country.

According to the indicators of the National Secretariat of Energy, the installed capacity (amount of power generators would be able to produce) is 2321.6 MW, however, firm power (the actual amount generated in reality) is 1668.7 MW, but external factors such as energy loss in the transmission causes a loss of about 348 MW. The director of electricity from the Secretary of Energy, Fernando Diaz, explained that of the total generated (firm power), 56% is produced by hydroelectric power (928.6 MW). The rest is generated by coal (120MW), light diesel (294.8MW) and Bunker (555 MW). This relationship is challenged by private enterprise.

The director of the Energy Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Ivan Barria said by building more hydroelectric plants the relationship can be maintained against thermal generators. Barria said with a greater availability, consumers will receive better prices, but limiting the number of producers that can provide energy will give an advantage to the thermal generators. He thinks that on the issue of hydroelectric generation plants, there are studies of river flows dating back over 50 years, which does not occur, for example, with wind generators (by wind) and there is no great knowledge about the behavior of the wind. He said for the next 4 or 5 years there is the ability to cope with demand, which is not static, but it is necessary that the generation capacity is increased by between 70 to 90 MW per year. In the business of energy, it takes many years to build a renewable energy generation facility - that is, to keep up with the demand in 2016, you have to start building now, he said. He fears that "unless we take the necessary decisions, this shortens the time and what can happen is to build more thermal plants that depend on oil."

The energy exchange with the other countries in the area is another of the factors that are within the subject of generation, because the interconnection lines already exist between countries, specifically in Central America. In 2011, Panama imported 72.2 GWh and exported 8.1 GWh (net - 64.1 GWh imported). While in 2010 the country imported 70.7 GWh and exported 38.9GWh. (net - 31.8 GWh imported). In 2009 Panama imported 64.3GWh and exported 95.2GWh (net - 30.9 GWh exported).

"The balance of the last two years has been to import energy instead of exporting energy, figures that are not significant compared to the total system generation," he said Diaz.

"The role that corresponds to the consumers is to save energy, and to consume more efficiently," advised the president of the National Consumer Union, Pedro Acosta. He said the state has to talk with the companies involved in power generation, transmission, and distribution, to review the relationships between prices. There are differences in the costs and efficiency of production. We have no doubt the best way to produce it through hydroelectric dams, but if you have to bear the inefficiency and high cost of thermal, the loser is the consumer, said the president of the guild.

Terms Used In Energy -

Maximum Demand Generation is the maximum requirement of generating capacity to meet demand with a level of reserves established for reliability.

Total demand is the maximum generation needed to meet projected demand requirements.

Optimal Total Demand is the total demand that the existing generation fleet can cover reliably.

Total Firm Power Required is that needed to fully satisfy the demand projections.

Power Reserve is the reserve with which demand can be met reliably.

Contract Obligation is the guarantee of supply from a supplier who is not covered with his own generation committed by the distributor. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: And there you have it. Over the past two years Panama has been a net importer of electricity - not an exporter.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

IDAAN Authorities Don't Know Why Water Tastes Like Dirt

Infrastructure UpgradesThe authorities of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) have failed to determine why the water has an earthy flavor as reported by residents of the capital and San Miguelito starting a week ago. Felix Robertson, the Superintendent of the Federico Conte Water Treatment Plant in Chilibre, said the bad taste in the water could be due to the pipes that have been broken in recent days. He said this is a hypothesis held by the institution, because the water produced by the water treatment plant and distributed to 75% of the population goes through bacteriological and physicochemical testing to ensure it is a quality resource.

BREAK - Because of the work on the new Metro subway system, last week a 30 inch water pipe was broken at the intersection of San Miguelito, leaving many consumers without water service for almost six hours. Three days later, because of the work being performed for the construction of a viaduct on the Avenue of the Martyrs, a 20 inch water pipe was broken, causing another disruption of service.

Tests are conducted - Robertson said they are conducting tests to determine the cause of the problem, and samples are also being taken at residences and along different points of the distribution network. He did not specify the number of complaints users have submitted for the alleged bad taste in the water, Robertson said the complaints have come from specific sectors. According to him, when the IDAAN staff receives complaints, these cases have occurred only in some residences in the same sector.

In response to the complaints made by users, they are opening all of the fire hydrants fed by the Chilibre water treatment plant, to verify its quality, he said. The water produced by the Chilibre water treatment plant has a turbidity level of between 0.95 and 1.5 nephelometric turbidity units. Yesterday, during a tour of the treatment plant, Superintendent Robertson said they stopped using aluminum sulfate more than a month ago. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Translation - "we don't have any friggin' clue why the water tastes like dirt, but we are actively fishing around for an answer or a solution." Thanks for the update.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

CONEP Says Panama Cannot Cancel Hydroelectric Projects To Please One Small Group

Infrastructure UpgradesThe businessmen who make up the National Council of Private Enterprise (Conep), said Thursday they conducted a study on the dialog between the indigenous people and the Government, which determined hydroelectric projects such as Barro Blanco can not be stopped because a particular group request. CONEP President Antonio Fletcher said at a press conference this is not a matter of compromise but of emotional intelligence, because the Indians should know that what they have achieved thus far cannot be sacrificed to meet a cultural issue. The businessman added one of the important points is that you can not play with legal certainty, nor the future of the country, nor the economic impact that may result in the suspension of a project of the magnitude of Barro Blanco. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Prequalification For Companies To Build New Bridge Over The Panama Canal in Colon

Infrastructure UpgradesTwo consortiums and one company submitted prequalification documents to bid on the construction a new bridge at the Atlantic end of the canal, said the Panama Canal Authority on Monday, 5 March 2012. The first consortia is Odebrecht - Hyundai Joint Venture (Brazil - Korea), the second is Acciona Infrastructures - Tradeco (Spain - Mexico), and the single company is Vinci Construction Grands Projets (France). "Pre-qualification is the first of two stages of a process leading to the selection of the company that will handle the construction of a bridge in the Atlantic," said the Panama Canal Authority in a press release.

Process - The evaluation process to follow is the best value, which will rate the candidates based on technical criteria, experience and financial capacity. At the end of this period, which is expected in the next 45 days, the Panama Canal Authority will announce the name of the consortia and/or companies that have been prequalified, which can then participate in the second stage, which is the selection of the contractor for the construction of the work. This next period starts with delivery by the ACP of a list of charges with the design and specifications for the new bridge, a site visit for those who have pre-qualified, and finally the receipt of proposals, expected for July of this year, approximately.

The third bridge over the canal will be located three miles north of the Gatun Locks and the new third set of locks being build in the Atlantic, near Ave. Thelma King in the province of Colon. Its design is inspired by similar bridges that have already been built in countries like Spain, Korea, France, China and Japan. It is planned to be double delta-shaped cable-stayed inverted "Y" with four lanes. Its length is 4.6 km and its elevation of 75 meters above sea level. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The bridge will look something like this one, in Japan.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Many Parts of Panama City Won't Have Drinking Water Service Tomorrow

Infrastructure Upgrades Water service will be suspended from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 pm this Sunday, March 4, 2012, in the areas of San Miguel, Calidonia, Perejil, Chorrillo, Balboa and Amador, in the District of Panama. A statement from the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (Idaan) reports that the interruption in the distribution of water is due to maintenance and replacement of the electric lines that feed the motor of pump Number 3, of the drinking water pumping station in Balboa, which is administered by the Panama Canal Authority. The organization recommends that all affected users should take the necessary measures to avoid shortages in their homes and shopping centers. (Prensa)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Contract To Purchase Northern Corridor Approved

Infrastructure UpgradesThe National Highway Company authorized the purchase of the Northern Corridor, after the purchase was approved by the National Economic Council. The capitalization agreement, which includes the stock purchase agreement, asset purchase agreement and issuance of debt securities, shall be signed for the sum of $650 million dollars. Negotiations started in 2009 with the Mexican companies ICA and PYCSA. However, the Southern Corridor was acquired in full by the government since August 2011. (Telemetro)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

More Detours Coming Due To Metro Subway Construction in Panama City

Infrastructure UpgradesThere will be more traffic detours starting next week due to the start of the construction of the new Metro subway station at the intersection with Via Transistmica and Ave 12 de Octubre. Agustin Arias, the Chief of Engineering for the Metro, said on Wednesday they have completed the relocation of utilities and now they have to make some adjustments to the diversion of traffic for the preliminary work. Arias said all of the elements of the project to build the new Metro subway system in Panama City are being executed. (TVN)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Transmission linking Panama, Colombia to go up this year

Infrastructure UpgradesFebruary 29, 2012 — Colombia's state-owned transmission firm ISA will begin construction on a 372-mile transmission line connecting the Colombian and Panamanian power grids this year. The line will have an initial transmission capacity of 300 MW, with the option to be extended up to 600 MW. An auction for allocating the capacity is planned for May 2012, with the first power transactions between the two countries expected to take place in early 2015.

The firm plans to participate in tenders for new transmission projects with values of up to $300 million across both Colombia and Peru, as well a July round in Brazil organized by power market regulator Aneel. ISA will also look to enter the Chilean transmission market for the first time this year, through an upcoming tender for trunk line transmission projects on the Southern Cone country's central SIC power grid. Projects to be tendered include the extension of the SIC's 500 kV transmission line from Polpaico, just north of capital Santiago in region V, up to the Cardones substation in region III. The 466 mile line is seen as vital in giving greater power access to mining projects under development to the north of Santiago. Contracts to build several 220 kV lines and new substations are also to be offered. Chile's national energy commission has previously said it expects investment in projects offered through the tender to hit $900 million. (elp.com)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Government Takes Over Power Distribution in Bocas del Toro

Infrastructure UpgradesThe contract between the Ministry of the Presidency, the Office of Rural Electrification, and the electricity generation company AES Panama SA, which aims to purchase the power supply for electric power for distribution by the Office of Rural Electrification to the communities of Almirante, Changuinola, Guabito and the surrounding areas in the province of Bocas del Toro for the amount of $9 million dollars, was approved by the Cabinet. The Government said according to the agreement signed with the Bocas Fruit Company Co LLC for the transfer of the service of electricity distribution to third parties in the areas of Almirante, Changuinola, Guabito and surrounding areas of the province of Bocas del Toro, and the sale of the assets of the distribution and marketing of electric power, established it is the duty of the State to provide the service of electricity distribution to the communities mentioned above. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: To put this in a nutshell, basically the government of Panama has taken over the responsibility to distribute electricity in the area of Changuinola, Almirante, and the surrounding areas from the Bocas Fruit Company. The government will apparently be spending $9 million dollars to pay for both the electricity from the AES hydroelectric project, as well as the existing infrastructure (wires, transformers, substations, what have you) from the Bocas Fruit Company. And with this agreement the Bocas Fruit Company is now relieved from their responsibility of having to provide electricity to the local areas surrounding the banana plantations, a job they have not been doing very well, anyway. Once again Martinelli steps in, spends some money, and fixes a long standing problem. Didn't I hear a few people bitching about how the people in Bocas del Toro "didn't benefit" from the AES dam in Changuinola recently? Now you know why. And, it's getting fixed. I guess it makes perfect sense. Local people are much more likely to support the existence of a nearby hydroelectric project if they know that their power comes from that source. Want to be double smart? Give them the cheapest residential electrical rates in the whole "dam" country. Make it an economical bonanza to live near a hydro-electrical project. "Bazinga!"

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Barro Blanco Would Save $22 Million Per Month On Fuel Expenditures

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Barro Blanco Hydroelectric Project represents more than $22 million dollars per month to the nation in savings for fuel purchases, said Julio C. Lasso Vaccaro, a spokesman for the company Generadora del Istmo S.A. (Genisa). Construction on the hydro electric project began in May 2011. It is a hydroelectric dam that does not divert water through a tunnel or channel, because the water taken from the Tole district generates the electricity needed and returns to the river intact, said Lasso Vaccaro.

As for the complaints generated by the indigenous people from the region, who say the Barro Blanco project is located on part of the annexed areas which they consider to be protected by law, the spokesman said it is located in the district of Tole and 100% outside of those protected areas.

Barro Blanco, an American owned company with Panamanian human resources, employs about 100 people, and it is a company that is not tied to any government, although the General Secretariat of Energy, over the years, from various governments, has maintained a policy of divestiture from thermoelectric power, explained the spokesman on channel 13 Telemetro Report.

Referring to the benefits the residents of the surrounding areas who live near the hydroelectric project stand to gain, Lasso said companies like his have to give 1% of their profits - so that the office for rural electrification can provide electric service to residents. However, just as with the IFARHU scholarships there are many (benefits) that are missed by the residents, said Lasso. "We are committed to give 20% of our benefits to the communities of Cerro Viejo, Bella Vista, Veladero and Bacaba" said company representative. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

The National Council of Private Enterprise Defends Hydroelectric Projects in Panama

Infrastructure UpgradesThe decision whether or not to grant concessions to companies to build hydroelectric projects on Ngäbe-Buglé lands or anywhere else in the rest of the country should not be made exclusively by the indigenous Indians or the leadership in the talks, warned the National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP). Antonio Fletcher, the President of the CONEP, said it would be unacceptable to prohibit hydroelectric development throughout the national territory. The CONEP called upon the participants to continue with the dialog, but they should not confuse the need to put an end to the conflict with the sacrifice of the future that the country is demanding.

Ivan Barria, of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said although there are other renewable energy alternatives, the most widely tested and experienced is hydropower. "Hydroelectric power generation is the one with the greater maturity; thermal power generation (burning fuel such as oil or coal) represents leakage through foreign exchange and variable pricing," he said.

The National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP) Defends Hydroelectric Power Generation in Panama

Stalled dialog - Yesterday was another unproductive day in the National Assembly, with the government and the Indians failing to reach an agreement on the two proposals, one presented by each side. The first proposal was presented by the Coordinator, who stated their position of not accepting the idea that the future of the hydroelectric projects should remain in the hands of regional conferences, or that the issue should be decided through a national referendum. The Government had proposed that hydroelectric projects could be approved or authorized through a vote by the citizens in the region.

Meanwhile, the Government made its counter-proposal, saying they would cancel all of the concessions granted to individuals or corporations, foreign or domestic, for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources, and the development of hydroelectric projects in the Ngäbe-Bugle region and adjoining areas. The authorities insist that the Barro Blanco project, which the Indians are demanding to be cancelled, is outside of the Ngäbe-Bugle region and nearby areas.

The government also proposed that the Ngäbe-Bugle people should participate in conjunction with the competent authorities in the development of management plans for the watersheds located within the Ngäbe-Bugle district and adjoining areas, and the approval of future hydroelectric projects.

Subsequently, a subcommittee was formed consisting of three members from each of the parties involved to try to unify the proposals and submit an article of agreement. However, by 8:00 pm the negotiations were unsuccessful, so a recess was declared until today at 10:00 am, when the dialog was resumed. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The rapid growth and expansion of the Panamanian economy in the past seven years have placed ever increasing demands on the nation's ability to generate electrical power. If you will remember during the Torrijos administration there was one year of much lower than normal rainfalls caused by El Niño ENSO conditions in the equatorial Pacific ocean. As a result water levels behind the existing dams dropped down to a point where they were forced to halt the generation of electrical power. The government had to implement rolling blackouts and other methods to reduce power consumption for a few months. Eventually the rainy season returned (much later than normal), the reservoirs filled back up, the power came back on, and everyone forgot about it. However the episode served as a "wake up call" for the government and as a result there was a massive spurt of new concessions granted to build new hydro electric projects all over the country. Right now, today, the new projects coming on line are just barely keeping pace with the growing demand and rapidly expanding economy in Panama. This country is blessed with massive amounts of rainfall every year (normally). Hydroelectric projects are the cleanest, cheapest, and most efficient way to generate electrical power. The cost is less than half of what it costs to generate power by burning fossil fuels such as oil or coal. So yeah, there's no doubt about it. Panama needs hydroelectric power, and the government can't afford to allow a relatively small minority of the indigenous Ngäbe-Bugle Indians dictate national policy on this issue. Obviously...

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Ngobe-Bugle Continue To Reject Hydroelectric Projects

Infrastructure UpgradesThe chieftain of the Ngobe-Bugle, Silvia Carrera, reiterated on Thursday the opposition of her people to develop hydropower programs in the areas they inhabit. In an interview given during the morning news broadcast this morning on channel 13 Telemetro Report, Carrera said the Indians did not accept the proposal of the government of President Ricardo Martinelli, which suggests the establishment of stronger controls on future hydroelectric projects in the region and adjoining areas. Similarly, the Ngöbe have focused on the thought of not accepting the proposal of the President, who says that in the absence of progress between the Government and the Indians, it is preferable to hold a referendum so the people of Panama can choose the future hydroelectric projects in the country. After a recess, yesterday, February 15, the talks about Bill 415 were resumed between the Assembly and the Coordinator for the Defense of Natural Resources and the Rights of the Ngobe-Bugle People, which establishes special protections of mineral resources, water and the environment in the Ngöbe region. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The Ngobe-Bugle are not going to accept the hydroelectric projects, and the government is not likely to back down. The country needs the power, it's that simple.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Hydroelectric "Boom" Started During Torrijos Administration

Infrastructure UpgradesDuring his administration former president Martin Torrijos approved 27 hydroelectric projects in Panama. In the past six years the Authority of Public Services (ASEP) has approved 40 concessions for the construction of hydroelectric plants in the country, but only one of them has any impact within the Ngäbe-Buglé region. This is the so-called Barro Blanco Hydroelectric Project, whose reservoir will affect approximately 7 hectares of an annexed area of ​​the Ngäbe-Buglé Indian region, although the civil structures (the dam itself) are located within the territory of the province of Chiriqui, on the flow of the Tabasará river in the area of Tole. The hydroelectric plant is under a concession granted to the company Generadora del Istmo S.A., a Honduran company, and it is being built by the company Panam Energy. The work must be completed by September 2014 and the project will have a generating capacity of 28.8 megawatts, according to the concession contract.

The ASEP reported yesterday that they are evaluating the issue of concessions for hydroelectric projects, after the controversy that arose during the protests by indigenous groups who oppose the projects. "We are currently in a process of conducting an evaluation of all of the applications we have received, to finally determine the next steps, keeping in mind all legal, economic, environmental, and social issues," said Zelmar Rodriguez, the manager of the ASEP. Chiriqui is the province where most of the hydroelectric projects are concentrated, with 26 hydroelectric projects under construction or design, especially on the rivers Chiriqui Viejo, Chico, Caldera and Chiriqui. The province with the second most number of hydroelectric projects is Veraguas, with 7 that have been approved. There is also one under construction in Portobelo in the province of Colon, and another in the design stage in the province of Cocle. To this are added 44 new applications for the exploitation and development of new hydroelectric projects, at least 30 of them in Chiriqui. None have yet been approved.

The boom - Hydropower fever began in 2006 when the government of Martin Torrijos eased the procedures for granting concessions and most of these rights were given away for free. This attracted the richest man on earth, Carlos Slim, as well as the wealthy families in Panama, and the friends and associates of the Torrijos government benefited from these concessions.

The Torrijos administration granted 27 concessions for new hydroelectric projects, including Paso Ancho, which was granted to the company Hydro Power and Jose Guillermo Lewis Navarro, who was the brother of Samuel Lewis Navarro, who was the First Vice President of Panama at the time. On about the same date the family Kupnik-Lacayo, related to Torrijos, received another free concession to build a hydroelectric project called Bajos del Totuma. Later the concession was sold to the entrepreneur Petter Stern.

Another concession that created a legal problem was the Bajo de Mina hydroelectric project, awarded to the company Ideal SA, of the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, after it was taken away in an administrative process from Cesar Lisac. In November 2010 the Supreme Court ordered that the concession rights should be returned to Lisac. Now the ASEP has resolved to request the "administrative rescue" of the hydroelectric project, and to indemnify Lisac. However, Slim remains in business with another hydroelectric project called Baitun, also granted during the Torrijos administration.

Within groups of local families who received other concessions from the Torrijos government is also the Gonzalez Revilla family, that with the company Panama Power Holding has five hydroelectric projects in construction and design, and the Eleta family, with the company Electron Investment and Cafe Eleta S.A., has another three concessions in the province of Chiriqui.

Meanwhile, the former Vice President Felipe Alejandro Virzi and Gabriel Btesh received a concession on the Tabasará river on 10 January 2008, during the Torrijos administration.

Still pending, since 2006, is another request for a concession from the company Reforestadora Cañazas S.A., a company linked to the current president Ricardo Martinelli. This concession, still pending, is located in the district of Cañazas, Veraguas and will have 9.5 megawatts of generation. According to the ASEP, this project has not yet passed the stage of observations of the environmental impact study.

The administrator of the ASEP said the present Government have given about 13 concession rights for the exploitation and development of hydroelectric projects nationwide. Rodriguez also said during his term in office he has received about 12 applications to exploit and develop hydroelectric projects nationwide that are still under study.

The hydroelectric plants are being rejected by the indigenous ngäbe and buglé Indians and radical environmental groups, but in contrast there are sectors that defend them under responsible management. Yesterday the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Panama held a forum on the issue of hydropower. In it, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Federico Humbert, urged all actors in society to promote a comprehensive analysis on the responsible management of the dams. "We consider it important to promote investments that permit the construction of new plants from renewable sources, as is the case of dams that do not require fuel for power generation," said Humbert. The Chamber of Commerce said yesterday they hope the issue of hydropower is agreed and resolved responsibly without pressure or preconditions. "These plants, require no fuel for their operations, they prevent significant increases in electricity rates for consumers, have less impact on the environment and, if well managed, are capable of being respectful to the communities where they are developed," added Humbert.

According to official data of the ASEP, today 54% of electricity in Panama is generated by hydroelectric plants and the other 46% by thermal plants that use fuel. Although 40 concessions for new hydroelectric plants have been granted, technicians said Panama still will not achieve sufficient volumes to be able to export energy, because the construction of new shopping centers, large buildings with casinos, and the development of the the towns in the interior will use up the new new supply of electricity that will be generated by the construction of the new hydroelectric plants. The Albrook Mall alone demands a maximum capacity of 18 megawatts of energy, similar to a city like Aguadulce, Cocle.

The concessions granted for hydroelectric projects since 2006 come with a 50 year agreement, renewable. Under the rules established by the ASEP during the Torrijos administration, the concession holder can use 90% of the water of the rivers where they are located, leaving only 10% as a reserve of water for human consumption, irrigation and tourism.

The dialogue between indigenous groups and the government, seeking consensus on the wording of Article 5 of the Bill 415, resumed today in the afternoon hours. The discussion of the item concerning mining was passed, however, the debate got stuck when they were considering the part about the hydroelectric concessions in the region, because the indigenous groups also want to include the annexed areas. Right now a proposal is circulating to hold a referendum to determine whether or not the concessions granted in these area should be cancelled.

The protests by indigenous groups began on January 31 with the closure of several points along the Pan-American highway, which left losses in the order of $12 million alone in the province of Chiriqui. The road closure led to clashes with the police and left one person dead. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The Panama America newspaper is basically the only outlet for the Martinelli administration. This article is obviously a "venting" as it were. They are saying that all of these hydroelectric projects were cronyism, granted during the Torrijos administration. Apparently the only one that was no approved was that of Martinelli in Veraguas. And the project supposedly linked to the friends of Martinelli was actually granted in 2008, by Torrijos.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Via Brazil Will Be Partially Closed At Night To Build Axis Project

Infrastructure UpgradesAs part of the work related to the "roadway realignment project" in Panama City, the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) and the company FCC Central American reported the closure of two traffic lanes that connect Via Brazil with Avenida Simon Bolivar (Transístmica). The closure will be effective as of tomorrow, Wednesday, 15 February 2012, and the two lanes will be closed during the night shift from 9:00 pm until 3:00 am. The closure will be in effect for about 30 days and will focus on the two center lanes. During the scheduled working hours two lanes will remain open, one in each direction. The work will be taking place from McDonald's to the first light located in front of Alexis Billiards and the former Copama on via Brazil. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: This is the North - South Axis project. The design or goal of the project is to connect the Northern and Southern Corridors right through the middle of the city. Right now Via Brazil cuts through the center of Panama City but the priority for traffic is always given to the major roadways that go East - West, such as Tumba Muerto, Transistmica, Via España, Calle 50, and Via Israel. This project will use a combination of bridges and tunnels or overpasses at each of the major intersections, so that drivers will be able to go straight through the middle of the city from the Northern Corridor to the Southern Corridor at Punta Pacifica without having to stop for all of those intersections. So yes, more roadwork, more infrastructure upgrades, more traffic headaches. Just think how nice it's going to be when all of this crap is done. For example, once the new Metro subway system opens up, then more than 100,000 people per day will be riding the train to get to work, which means they will not be on the surface level, driving their cars, riding in buses, or using taxis. So every subway rider will lighten the load on the roadway system. And now the government is already starting the process of preparing for the bidding process to build Line 2, before Line 1 is even complete. By contract, Line 1 has to be delivered before 1 December 2013. Anyway, here's a video which shows some of what's going to be built.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Water Service Should Be Restored To La Chorrera and Arraiján This Afternoon

Infrastructure UpgradesIt is expected that the supply of drinking water will be reestablished sometime this afternoon to the districts of La Chorrera and parts of Arraiján, after repairs are completed to the power transmission line that feeds electrical power to the La Mendoza water treatment plant. Pedro Miguel Morón, supervisor in charge of the National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (Idaan) in La Chorrera, reported the valves of the water plant were closed at 4:00 am early this morning, after they received a call warning them an electrical pole had fallen in the neighborhood of El Flamingo. He told Panama America at this time the utility company is working to complete the necessary repairs, and once they are completed they will reopen the water valves. They estimate water service will reach the faucets of all customers within two hours (once the service is turned back on). Customers in the neighborhoods of Colon and Balboa will have water service within ten minutes, but some of the more distant neighborhoods such as La Herradura, two hours later. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Three Words - "Backup Power Plant." Nah, that would be a waste of money. The power never goes out in Panama, everyone knows that...

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Electricity Would Go Up 30% If Hydro Electric Projects Are Cancelled

Infrastructure UpgradesAn additional cost of $200 million dollars (per year) would be created in additional electricity rates if the hydro electric projects that already exist right now inside of the Ngabe Buglé region, surrounding areas, and indigenous populations were suspended, warned the Secretary of Energy. Fernando Diaz, the representative of this entity, is participating in the discussions that are being held in the Commerce Commission of the National Assembly of Deputies, with government officials and the Bugle Ngabe leaders, and he said the resources have to be used where they are. He argued that this type of energy (hydro) is less polluting than energy produced by burning fuel. There are currently fifteen hydroelectric projects either in the planning phase or under construction; two within the Ngabe Buglé region, three in neighboring areas, and 12 in places where indigenous peoples live. According to the Ministry of Energy if these projects were suspended a person who currently pays a monthly electricity bill of $80 would see that increase to $104 dollars. (Telemetro)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

IDAAN Reports Damage To Water Main in Panama City

Infrastructure UpgradesBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Panama's National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) reported the sectors of Los Ángeles, El Carmen, and surrounding areas will be seeing lower than normal levels of water pressure due to some damage that has occurred to a 16" water main in the area. IDAAN says work crews have been dispatched to repair the damage to the water main in the area of Via Transistmica, caused by the crews who are working on the Line One of the new Metro subway system in Panama City.

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

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Raw Sewage Still Running Through Panama's Tourist District

Infrastructure UpgradesBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - You might remember that back on 17 January 2012 I posted this video documenting raw sewage that was running down Calle D in El Cangrejo, an area of the city where there are many hotels, restaurants, and rental car companies that cater to international tourists. Panama's National Institute of Water and Sewers came out that same day and cleared the blockage in the line - temporarily. The problem is that the primary sewer line running through this area under the street has collapsed. When the IDAAN comes out they run a sort of "Roto Rooter" kind of thing down the hole to clear the blockage. That works for awhile, but it doesn't last long. In this case they cleared the blockage on 17 January, and by Sunday, 29 January, just 12 days later, it was blocked again. This time it's been blocked for more than five days now. The hotel where the raw sewage is running notified the IDAAN seven times - and they still have not come out to even temporarily clear the blockage, much less actually do anything more substantial like tear up the street and actually replace the collapsed sewage line. I myself have personally notified Ministers - and nada. I guess they want the tourists to spend their dry season dodging balls of crap in the streets...

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

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Bridge Of The Americas Might Be Closed Due To Landslide

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Bridge of the Americas could be closed to vehicular traffic, after having suffered damages similar to what happened at the Centennial Bridge. This was announced on Thursday, 2 February 2012, by the Minister of Public Works, Federico Suarez, who said there was a landslide under the roadway near the Scenic Overlook. However, he said as work progresses, they will be able to determine if they will have to close the bridge. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama City Mayor Meets With Garbage Czar - Improving Relations

Infrastructure UpgradesOn 15 February 2012 the Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness of Panama (AAUD) will receive a fleet of 15 new garbage collection trucks, of the total of 99 they expect to receive by the end of March, announced the Administrator of the AAUD, Enrique Ho, during his first meeting with the new Mayor of Panama City Roxana Mendez. During their meeting Mendez and Ho outlined strategies to improve, between the two institutions, the garbage collection service in Panama City. For her part the Mayor said the public perception is that there is still work to do in some townships. Following the restoration of communications between the municipality and the AAUD, which had been cut at the time of the creation of the authority by former Mayor Bosco Ricardo Vallarino, Ho said he is "very happy" about the meeting and the efforts to improve the system. Enrique Ho said one of the problems facing AAUD is the lack of awareness of the population, which both institutions will be addressed in upcoming meetings. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: President Ricardo Martinelli took the responsibility for garbage collection away from the former Mayor of Panama City Bosco Vallarino, because the municipal government was receiving millions of dollars in budget, had more than 1,000 employees supposedly dedicated to garbage collection, but in reality they only had about a dozen working trucks, and they were simply not getting the job done. So, Martinelli simply created the new AAUD and assumed responsibility for garbage collection, taking it away from the municipality, in order to get the job done. Now that Bosco has resigned and the CD's Roxana Mendez in the new Mayor, there's been a "thawing" of the relationship between the Mayor's office and the AAUD. Go figure. The real news is that there will be 99 new garbage trucks running around within the next 45 days or so. That should go a long way towards making Panama City a cleaner place. And there's yet another accomplishment - but please, let's hold the adoring applause until it actually happens, eh?

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

ACP Will Build A New Container Port in Corozal, Panama

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) are contemplating the construction of a new container port in Corozal that would cost more than $500 million dollars. The port, which will be located in Corozal, on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, would be 2.5 km long and would have the capacity to serve five Panamax ships, said Jorge Quijano, Vice President of the Department of Engineering and Administration of Programs for the Expansion of the Panama Canal. The terminal would be given in concession, but under the supervision of the ACP, which would make the investment in the infrastructure and then hire an expert in handling these operations, he said.

"The ACP may administer the estate, but not necessarily the port, and the concession would be granted to someone to administer the activity, with benefits that at the end go to the state," the official said. The construction of the pier will require dredging and land fills, for the structure to withstand the weight of the containers that are stacked in ports. Preliminary studies show that a port in this area would be profitable, because it will increase the transfer capacity in the Pacific area.

Through October 2011 last year 5.4 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) were moved through Panamanian ports, representing a growth of 18% over the same period in 2010, according to the Panama Maritime Authority. Most likely, Quijano said, is that the construction will take place in phases, first the dock, then the first container yard to the south and then the north, once the ACP offices that are currently in this location are moved. "What remains now is to finish the studies, to view the areas, the flow, how the containers are going to get out, as well as to determine the approximate cost of the investment, how it is going to be performed, who will manage it, how long it will take to develop; we are beginning to explore all these possibilities," he said. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: And poof, there's another government infrastructure project that's going to cost a half a billion dollars, just like that. All of the money will get spend on construction, services, manpower, fuel, logistics, contracting, etc., so practically all of the money will remain in Panama. This project will generate even more jobs. Recently the Minister of Public Works said on a television interview, when talking about all of the infrastructure projects the government is executing, that "we have even more projects that we would like to do, however the construction companies don't dare to place a bid for the projects, because there's not enough construction manpower left available to build them." Wow. Anyway, I guess they're going to import people to build this new port facility in Corozal. I simply love all of these infrastructure improvements, growth, and spending. It's keeping the economic engine running at full tilt - and all of the projects are good (great) for the country and it's people as a whole over the long term. In the image above I've marked where I think they intend to build this new port facility in Corozal. It's worth noting that the "waterfront" side as I've drawn in this image measures exactly 2.5 kilometers, starting from the boat ramp in Diablo and going towards the North, past the front of the existing buildings in Corozal, which are currently being used as offices for the ACP.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Construction of "North - South Axis" Will Cost $200 Million Dollars

Infrastructure UpgradesThe overpass being built on Ave. Israel by the company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) will cost $200 million dollars and is estimated to be completed in late 2013. The Director of Special Projects of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP), Carlos Ho, said the project also includes a "fast track" that will cross the main intersection of 50th Street, via Brazil, via España, and Via Transístmica to Richard J. Alfaro. He explained this is part of the "North - South Axis Project" in Panama City, which will connect the Northern and Southern corridors through which circulate more than 60,000 cars daily, according to studies by this entity.

He explained Via Israel is going to sink and it will pass a roundabout at the existing street level. "This will eliminate the traffic lights and traffic will be more fluid to Calle 50, as well as to the center of the city, because they will be able to move in a more expeditious manner," said the official.

Roberto Roy, Secretary of the Metro, said projects like this help to improve the road infrastructure in the capital. "Building the new Metro subway system is not the only solution for better vehicular circulation, but also the arterial roads of the city," he said.

Ho added something similar will be done with Calle 50, they will sink the road a bit and construct margins that will lead to the roundabout at the intersection of Calle 50 and Via Brazil, from Via Israel. When asked if the pedestrian bridge will disappear that is currently located across from the vocational school Obaldía Isabel Herrera, Ho said this could be a possibility, but initial studies indicated there was no need for it to be relocated. "If necessary, the bridge will be removed for the safety of road users," he said. The Director of Special Projects of the MOP said these projects will not affect the halls of this campus, although he confirmed the school would lose 350 square meters of land. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

A "Fourth Bridge" Will Be Built Over The Panama Canal

Infrastructure UpgradesA fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, - with the third to be built by the Panama Canal Authority - will soon be tendered by the Government. The cost of the project is unknown and the "most logical position is close to Bridge of the Americas," said Public Works Minister, José Federico Suarez. The new structure should have "a higher road capacity - of 6 to 8 lanes - and for transportation, call it mass transit, like a short distance or suburban train, heavy rail, or bus line," said Suarez. The minister said the fourth bridge is a necessity, because in 10 years the population of West Panama will exceed one million. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: The existing infrastructure already can't handle the load. The "third bridge" is scheduled to be built on the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal. With the construction of the expanded Panama Canal the current method of driving over a swing bridge at the water level will no longer work. The government also wants to build a highway to connect Colon with Bocas del Toro on the Atlantic coast, to open all of that land up to development.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks