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Thursday, July 24 2014 @ 12:27 AM EDT

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Financial Tower Will Use Lands Of The Santo Tomas Hospital

Infrastructure UpgradesThe construction of underground parking, a museum and a library that will be used as part of the construction of the Financial Tower will occupy 20,000 square meters of land held by the Hospital Santo Tomás, which has been declared part of Panama's historical heritage. The land at the site is valued at $3,500 per square meter, according to real estate experts. The use of the land for this project, which would be worth $70 million dollars, is considered controversial by groups who oppose the building of the Financial Tower at a cost of about $250 million dollars. The Belisario Porras Foundation, which opposes the construction of the building on the site of the former US Embassy on Balboa Ave, has criticized the Minister of Economy and Finance, Alberto Vallarino, for having usurped property of historical value. The descendants of Porras, who ordered the construction of the hospital in 1924, are claiming the land. Vallarino denied that the tower will affect the gardens of the Santo Tomas hospital. "There is nothing more false than that because, on the other hand, this project will help the parking situation at the Santo Tomas hospital," he said. Vallarino revealed that the land of the former embassy cost the state $18.5 million dollars. (El Siglo)

The Front of the Santo Tomas Hospital on Balboa Avenue in Panama City, Panama

Editor's Comment: The land in question is the area (roughly) marked in the red box on the above annotated image. The old US embassy is now gone. The structure has been completely demolished and the rubble hauled away. The land next to the former US embassy is also owned by the government of Panama, and it will be used as part of the footprint for the new "Financial Tower" project. And of course, there are people who are opposed to this project - because no matter what happens you can bet that someone will come out in opposition. From a strictly economical point of view this project is a good idea for the government, because right now they are shelling out millions of dollars per month in rent. And, the facilities they are renting are old, worn out, too small, not comfortable or very functional, etc.

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Idaan subcontracts Panama City sewerage repairs

Infrastructure UpgradesBusiness News Americas - Panama's national water utility Idaan has hired four private firms to help repair damaged sewerage systems in capital Panama City, local daily Capital reported. Ingeniería Total will repair damage in Panamá Centro and the surrounding areas. Inversiones Jabil will tackle damage in Chilibre, Distribuidora Arval will focus on San Miguelito, and Profusa will target Tocumen, Pedregal and Juan Díaz. Sewerage systems in many districts such as San Miguelito are extremely old and prone to collapsing, leading to many reports of damaged systems each day. Idaan hired the four firms as it is unable to carry out all the repairs, according to the report. The companies began work March 15, and as of April 6 had addressed 139 complaints. Idaan expects the companies to resolve around 2,000 cases of damaged pipelines by June 15. The work is budgeted at US$1mn. Panama City's expansion and zoning changes have failed to take into account the effect on water and sanitation, as large new buildings exceed Idaan's capacity to provide the service, according to the utility's director of operations, José Saavedra.
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Centennial Bridge, Roadway Reorganization, and Projects Underway (Suck It Up)

Infrastructure UpgradesThe rehabilitation of the Centennial Bridge and the road realignment in Panama City are the two mega projects being handled by the Ministry of Public Works. The first should be completed in August or September, while the other is just beginning. On the Centennial Bridge, the Minister of Public Works Federico Suarez said the roadway is functional, however he recommended that drivers should proceed with moderate speed. Referring to the road realignment, Suarez this will be the solution to the collapse (over saturation) being experienced in Panama City. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Every year there are about 30,000 new cars sold in Panama, while only about 5,000 or so are taken off of the road. Obviously there are now hundreds of thousands more cars on the streets than there were just ten years ago. Panama has built the Northern and Southern Corridors, effectively a sort of "beltway" around Panama City, but there's no real interconnection through the middle of the city that allows drivers to quickly and easily get from one side to the other. The plan calls for Via Brazil to be that mid-city interconnection. The MOP will be building new overpasses at every intersection where Via Brazil crosses another major roadway, like this intersection as depicted in the graphic illustration where it crosses Tumba Muerto at Plaza Edison. And as I have said in the past - if you think traffic in Panama City is a kluster now, wait until all of this simultaneous construction starts. Oh, and don't forget, they are also going to be ripping up the length of Vía España at the same time to build the new Metro subway system, that will run underground in this area. And the Ministers and government representatives keep talking about what's coming, and to my ears it's starting to sound like a dentist who's scheduling a root canal - it's coming, it has to happen, there's nothing we can do, it's going to hurt, so be prepared to suck it up (and please, don't kill us, we're just trying to help...)

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No Water Service in Panama City Tomorrow Due To Maintenance Work in Chilibre Plant

Infrastructure Upgrades Tomorrow, Thursday, April 21, for a period of 15 hours there will be no water service to the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, as reported by the National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (Idaan). This measure is due to maintenance work to be undertaken by Idaan and the Panama Canal Authority on the raw water supply intake gates of the Chilibre water treatment plant. According to the Idaan, the water supply will be suspended starting tomorrow at 12:00 noon and the outage will last until 3:00 am. In a statement, the Idaan asked the community to take steps to prevent shortages. (La Prensa)
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Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. Announces Expansion Plans in Panama

Infrastructure UpgradesBy Benzinga Staff - Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. today announced it has been awarded a 20-year concession by the Panamanian Maritime Authority to operate onshore storage facilities in the ports of Cristobal and Balboa in Panama on an exclusive basis. The award is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions by the Company and completion of definitive documentation with the appropriate Panamanian authorities. In addition, the Company has been pursuing the necessary approvals and, subject to receipt of such approvals, expects to commence physical supply operations in both Cristobal and Balboa by the end of the second quarter of 2011.
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Now Water Service in Panama City and San Miguelito For Five Hours

Infrastructure UpgradesFor five hours, Panama City and San Miguelito will not have drinking water, starting at 12:00 noon, due to maintenance work being performed at the water treatment plant in Chilibre. Felix Robinson, of the National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers, said the work started at 11:00 am. He explained the work is part of a process of ongoing maintenance to ensure a future flow of 280 million gallons of water, after the crisis of last December. According to Robinson, the impact from the suspension of water service will be minimal. (TVN Noticias)
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Panama developing 16 new hydropower projects

Infrastructure UpgradesPANAMA CITY, Panama -- Panama is developing 16 hydroelectric power projects with a total of investment of more than $1 billion dollars to satisfy domestic power demand, news outlets reported. These private sector projects are expected to be completed by 2015. The new hydro projects are projected to add 700 MW of capacity to the power grid of the Central American country, according to People's Daily Online. In other news, Brazilian state-run utility holding group and hydro generator Eletrobras will open an office in Panama as part of its internationalization process, a spokesperson for the company told Business News Americas. This will be Eletrobras' third international office. The group opened offices in Uruguay and Peru in 2010.
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Mexico's ICA Panama Wins $238 Million Dollar Road Construction Contract

Infrastructure UpgradesICA, the largest engineering and construction company in Mexico, announced today that the company won, together with the company Constructora Meco, a contract worth $238 million dollars to rebuild and expand the Ave. Domingo Díaz in Panama City, Panama. ICA, headquartered in Mexico City , said in a statement that the work, contracted by the Ministry of Public Works of Panama and should be completed within a maximum period of 36 months, and is part of a "road reorganization" plan developed by the Panamanian government. The winning consortium is made up of 70% by ICA and 30% by Meco. El reform project includes 12.3 kilometers of roadway, which goes from the connection at the Southern Corridor near the Tocumen International Airport, to the intersection with avenues Simón Bolívar and Ricardo J. Alfaro in the District of San Miguelito. "The avenue, the existing bridges and overpasses will be reconstructed and expanded from two to three lanes in both directions" and "improvement work will be done, such as the relocation of drainage and other public services," said ICA. The person responsible for Strategic Planning and the International area of ​​the Mexican company, Ruben Lopez, said ICA wants to "continue to expand its engineering and construction capabilities in select markets in Latin America." ICA said in the next five years the Mexican company expects that 50% of its revenues will come from abroad, mainly from Latin Latina. Right now ICA obtains only 5% if its revenues from other countries, which in 2011 they expect to increase to 10%. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Another $238 million dollars of government spending on infrastructure. The vast majority of this money will remain right here in Panama, spent by ICA on materials, fuel, services, payroll, supplies, subcontracts, etc. The government of Ricardo Martinelli is spending a whole lot of money on road and infrastructure projects - more than any previous administration - and while I like new roads, traffic in Panama City is going to be a complete Kluster of the first order for a couple of years while all of this is getting done. For example, they're going to build five overpasses - just on Via Brazil - while simultaneously building an underground Subway system along the length of Via Espana right through the middle of town. So, you should stay home, and don't come out until 2017 or so...

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Drinking Water Supply Is Being Restored Gradually - Gonzalez Ruiz

Infrastructure UpgradesIn the afternoon, drinking water supply may be restored to the peripheral areas and higher elevations in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, said the director of the National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN). "In the morning we managed to restore normal drinking water production at the water purification plant in Chilibre (of 180 million gallons) so therefore water service should be reaching the peripheral areas that were affected little by little, and in the afternoon water should be reaching the higher lying areas," he said González Ruiz in a press conference. The official said there are seven working water pumps and therefore the delivery of drinking water will be restored for Panama City. He added that in some points on the periphery water service was never suspended, but gradually the water pressure is increasing and by this evening the higher elevations will have water service. He recommended to the public that everyone should remain calm, and that there is no need to create "chains" and that the official information will be provided by the institution. Starting at dawn today, IDAAN technicians working in conjunction with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) conducted the repairs to replace the damaged pump at the raw water station of the Chilibre water treatment plant. Communities that were affected with low pressure or lack of supply were: Las Praderas de San Antonio, Linda Vista, San Antonio, Altos del Chase, Villa Lucre, Loma del Dorado, Brisas del Golf, Altos de Miraflores, La Arboleda del Golf, Villa de La Fuente 1 y 2, Loma del Cristo (San Miguelito), Los Ángeles, Andes 1 y 2, Bethania, Limajo, Condado del Rey, Altos de Panamá, El Bosque, Hato Pintado, El Dorado Parque Lefevre, Santa Mónica, La Siesta, Los Nogales 1 y 2, Sector Sur Tocumen, Victoriano Lorenzo, Las Mañanitas, Belén, Pedregal, Juan Díaz, Torremolino, Ciudad Radial, Parque del Este, Las Acacias, 24 de Diciembre, Don Bosco, Bello Horizonte, San Antonio de Tocumen. (Panama America)
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A Third Bridge Over The Panama Canal Will Cost $300 Million Dollars

Infrastructure UpgradesColon - In the next three months the government of Panama will hold a public bidding process to let the contract for the construction of a third bridge over the Panama Canal, expected to cost in excess of $300 million dollars, said Panama's Vice President and Foreign Minister, Juan Carlos Varela, in the province of Colon. Varela, who was accompanied by his wife Lorena Castillo and the senior leaders of the Panameñista political party, spoke about this and other projects on the Atlantic coast during a public ceremony held by the organizers of the XXV National Fair of Colon. "I want to announce that over the next three months we are going to tender the construction of a new bridge over the Panama Canal, which will join the Lower Coast of Colon with the rest of the province and the country. This will be very important because it will open access to many remote communities so that they can be in the city in 15 minutes," said Varela, who at the same time promised to promote the Colon Fair to make it an international event. Varela also said that in the next 24 months they would hold a public bid to let the contract for the construction of between 3,000 to 5,000 new homes in areas close to the city of Colon, with the aim of eventually being able to eliminate the condemned houses in this city. (La Prensa)

Miguel de la Borda - Currently the end of the road along the Lower Coast of the province of Colon.

Editor's Comment: This new bridge is a big deal that will play a role in opening up the "Lower Coast" of the province of Colon to development. If you want to see what's in play, drive over there one of these days. You can get to Sabanitas from Panama City in no time thanks to the new highway. Drive down to the "cuatro altos" (four stops) and turn left into the former Canal Zone. Drive down to the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal and go across the bridge (after waiting for the ships to pass) but don't go straight like you would to go to Fort Sherman. Turn left and go around behind the back side of Gatun Lake. Turn right at the road that goes to Achiote and Piña. This road will drop you down onto the "lower coast" of the province of Colon. When the road hits the coast turn left (away from Piña) and follow it all the way down to Miguel de la Borda, past Nuevo Chagres, Palmas Bellas, Salud, La Ensenada, Vista Hermosa, and Gobea. Currently the road ends at Miguel de la Borda and there is no bridge over the river there. However, there are plans to link Colon and Bocas del Toro with a road all the way along this coast. When that happens, then land values all along this coast will skyrocket. Just the construction of the new bridge will open this entire area up, thanks to improved access to civilization. Right now it's mostly just sleepy little (drug trafficking) fishing villages. That's going to change. Smart investors with cash will buy now and sit, then sell once the new bridge opens. Just a few years ago this road was dirt and mud and you needed a 4x4 to get to Miguel de la Borda. The road was improved and paved during the administration of Martin Torrijos and the last time I went there you could do it in a Corolla, however it's been awhile and I don't know that condition the road is in now. I've been over there lately, just not all the way down to Miguel de la Borda, so if you do it please take pictures and send me a road-trip report...

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Repairs to Centennial Bridge Cost $33 Million Dollars

Infrastructure UpgradesThe repairs to the access road for the Centennial Bridge, which collapsed last December 2010 as a result of heavy rains, will cost $33 million dollars. This according to the report submitted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to the National Assembly which requests a waiver in the established fiscal deficit limit, say sources within the institution. That amount represents 44.8% of the total investment in infrastructure which the government will have to absorb. This turns out to be 31.6% of what it cost to build the entire bride in the first place, at a cost of $104.3 million dollars. The Ministry of Public Works is talking to the companies in charge of the work in order to identify who might be responsible. (La Prensa)
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IDAAN Suspended Drinking Water Supply on Vía España For Five Hours

Infrastructure UpgradesThe people and businesses who live and work in the areas of Vía España and Calle 50 will not have water for about four to five hours today, according to the spokesman from the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), Thabanny Beitía. According Beitía, water service will be cut shortly because IDAAN has to make repairs to a major water main that is damaged. She added when speaking to Noticias AM that they will let people know when the water is going to be turned back on. (Panama America)

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Panama's New Metro Subway System Will Cost More Than $1.8 Billion Dollars

Infrastructure UpgradesThe first line of Panama's new Metro subway system will cost the state approximately $1.8 billion dollars, reflecting an increase of $348 million dollars more than previous cost estimates. Robert Roy, the Executive Secretary of the Metro, and Frank De Lima, the Deputy Economy Minister confirmed that the project will cost more for different reasons: they are studying the possibility of extending the line from Los Andes to San Isidro, in addition to the removal of public services, compensation, expropriation, and project management. These adjustments are not covered by the contract between the state and the consortium Linia Uno, formed by Odebrecht, FCC and Alstom, which remains at $1.452 billion dollars. However, they are present in the Government's plans. In fact, when on 15 March, the Andean Development Corporation announced the approval of a loan for $400 million dollars for the construction of Metro, they stated in their press release that the total estimated cost would be $1.805 billion dollars. The new figure does not include the construction of the yards and workshops of the Metro - a contract that should be put out on tender - or the possible increases due to the rising price of oil. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The nice part about these kinds of projects is that the vast majority of the money spent to build the new subway system will remain in Panama, paid in the form of salaries, supplies, fuel, services, etc.

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Martinelli Inaugurates Metro Line 1 Construction Project

Infrastructure UpgradesAt a ceremony to commemorate the initiation of the construction on Line 1 of the new Panama Metro subway system, the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli said this project was part of what he promised during the election campaign which is now being fulfilled because previous administrations have not heeded the needs of the people. The president, who was accompanied by the Vice President and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela and the President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla as a special guest, said that by 2012 they will be holding the public bidding process for the contract to build the second line of the Metro subway system, that will run from the neighborhood of 24 de Diciembre to Albrook. Line 1 will have a length of approximately 14 kilometers, starting in the area of ​​Los Andes and it will follow Via Transístmica and then continue on Fernández de Córdoba, following Vía España, then Avenida Justo Arosemena and continuing until the 5th of May plaza, from there to the government offices and ending at the Albrook bus terminal. For his part, Roberto Roy, the Secretary of the Panama Metro system, said this year they plan to start the construction of the five elevated and eight underground subway stations that are part of the subway system. This system will have the capacity to carry as many as 15,000 passengers per hour in each direction. The company Odeberch and the consortium FCC are responsible for the work of the construction of Metro Line 1. (Panama America)

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Centennial Bridge Could Reopen In Two Weeks

Infrastructure Upgrades In two weeks the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) may order the reopening of vehicular traffic on the Centennial Bridge. The announcement was made Minister Federico José Suárez. According to the Minister, traffic flow would be in both directions and could include the passage of heavy equipment. Suarez also revealed that the report on how the damage occurred is about to be released. He also said that part of the situation was caused because not enough was invested in the roadway when it was originally built. (TVN Noticias)
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Get Ready For Roadway Construction Induced Traffic Jams

Infrastructure UpgradesPublic Works Minister, Federico José Suárez, said this morning on the Channel 2 TVN news broadcast that on Friday this week at 9:00 am they would be opening the financial proposals for the roadway realignment plan for the bids that were held five months ago, involving four intersections - Vía Brazil with Calle 50, Via Brazil with Vía Israel, Via Brazil with Transístmica, and Via Brazil with Ricardo J. Alfaro (Tumba Muerto) at Plaza Edison. The Minister announced that the road Domingo Diaz (or Tocumen) be expanded to six lanes starting from the bridge at San Miguelito to the Hotel Riande, but must be the provision in the center for the construction of the second Metro line. In Panama Viejo they will also build a new road, a four lane boulevard, away from historical monuments to preserve them. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: The fact that the government of Panama is going to be spending millions of dollars on roadway and infrastructure improvements in Panama City is both the good and the bad news. Obviously Via Brazil is going to be the new central North to South artery that will connect the Southern Corridor near Multiplaza and Punta Pacifica to the Northern Corridor, right through the middle of town. And of course construction is also about to start on the tunneling for the new Metro subway system. Considering that daily traffic is already a nightmare, what do you think is going to happen once all of these simultaneous construction projects kick into high gear? It's going to be a massive Kluster*uck, that's what. I'm going to buy one of those little electric scooters (seriously) so I can at least get around when necessary. It's either that or put a bedroll in the Jeep. Hey, I know - we have to put up with some pain in order to enjoy the progress, right?

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Panamanian Government Will Invest $100 Million in Indigenous Areas

Infrastructure UpgradesPanama's president Ricardo Martinelli gave some very good news to the indigenous areas of the country while attending the inauguration of the improvements made to the Basic Education Center (CEBG) in the neighborhood of 24 de Diciembre. With support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Panama signed an agreement to invest $100 million dollars in the regions of the Kuna Yala, Emberá Wounan and Ngäbe Buglé. Of this total, $30 million dollars will go to support education in the area, and another $70 million dollars will be used to build roads in areas that are difficult to access. Happy for the improvements - Apart from this announcement, the educational community CEBG in the neighborhood of 24 de Diciembre was celebrating. It is that one of their old aspirations finally came true. At a cost of more than $1.5 million dollars several projects were completed, including the expansion and repair of twelve classrooms, restrooms, water fountains, the construction of a new soccer field with a synthetic surface, as well as improvements to the science and computer labs. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: And so, it begins. Look for the government of Panama to be finding new ways to spend money in the indigenous areas. Now that he has declared "peace" and relented on the mining issue, he will be trying to find new ways to make these people happy with him and his administration. Lots of ways. Meaning, lots of money, projects, investments in infrastructure, you name it. He needs to get these votes back into this camp, and he can't afford to spend the rest of his term in office fighting with them.

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Cabinet Authorizes Acquisition of "Pele Marine" System

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Executive Cabinet Council authorized the Panama Maritime Authority to acquire a system known as the "Pele Marine" for $5.3 million dollars. The purchase of the equipment, which was published in Official Gazette, is a control system for the inspection of Panamanian-registered ships and the seafarers who work on these ships. Similarly, the system will simplify and streamline the tasks of inspectors, both of the Directorate General of Seafarers, and the Directorate General of Merchant Marine. The equipment and computers necessary for the implementation and operation of the system will be purchased through the company PELE SYSTEM INC. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Coincidence? Maybe. Ismael Sagel Lopez works for the Directorate General of Merchant Marine of the Panama Maritime Authority. Maybe in the future he will have this little handheld computer device - the "Pele Marine" system - that he will be able to use to check on boats in this territory, do things like issue and register cruising permits, issue departure authorizations, etc. - all electronically and tied into a nationwide computer database. Something like this would make it much harder for a guy like Javier Martin to get away with killing people to steal their boats, for example. Once you're registered in the system, then any inspector on the water would be able to simply plug in the name of your boat, for example, and all of the information in the database would be instantly available on the handheld device. Ain't technology wonderful.

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Options Being Discussed For New Airport at Rio Hato

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Rafael Barcenas, said on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast that they are considering two options for the construction of a new international airport in Rio Hato. President Ricardo Martinelli decided that based on the studies, Rio Hato where the airport will be built, thus ending a dispute among several municipalities to be the headquarters of the new international airport in the interior of the country. Barcenas explained that they are analyzing what would be the most viable economic proposition: they could either build a tunnel for the Inter American highway to pass underneath the runway of the new airport, or they could extend the runway to the North and build the entire airport on that side of the highway, in an area where the state already owns some 7,000 hectares of land. They have not yet made a final decision. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: Google Earth Placemark - If you click on this link a Google Earth placemark file should automatically download to your computer. If you open that file, the Google Earth program should open and it should "fly" you to the point where the Inter American highway crosses over the runway at Rio Hato. The government of Panama has decided to build a new international airport at Rio Hato, and this article is about them trying to decide what to do about the traffic. Back in the "old days" when Rio Hato was a military field, they would just stop the traffic on the road when a plane was taking off or landing.

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Second Phase of Highway Progressing

Infrastructure UpgradesWork is advancing at a good pace on the construction of the second phase of the Madden-Colón highway. This part of the project covers a distance of 35 miles and is a contract valued at $218 million dollars. The work should be done and the road opened by July 2012. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Currently the highway to Colon ends just before the Rey supermarket in Sabanitas. This project will extend the highway the remaining distance, most of the way to downtown Colon. Right now you can zip over to Sabanitas in no time, but then the slow crawl to Colon takes another hour, at least, more during rush hour.

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Wind energy projects in Panama

Infrastructure UpgradesIn order to facilitate the construction and installation of wind turbines and renewable plants in general, and to regulate their development in Panama, the Government is drawing up a new legal framework. The Panamanian authorities have approved 25 applications for the construction of wind farm projects totaling 2,064 MW. A new regulatory framework will promote renewable energy sector. Wind power generation is a priority option for the government of Panama in order to increase the renewable share in the country’s electricity balance. The latter was confirmed by the National Authority of Public Services (ASEP), which informed that 25 wind turbines applications for the construction of wind farms have already been approved. Five of these have already received final authorization while the others are still waiting for the process to be completed. However, for the time being, only one wind farm project is actually under construction, in the province of Coclé, with a capacity of 225 MW. If all the submitted wind farm projects were to be implemented, the new installed capacity would amount to 2,064 MW, which alone could nearly cover the country’s total electricity needs, currently met with an installed capacity of 1,650 MW (mainly from oil) and partly from imports. In order to facilitate the construction and installation of wind turbines and renewable plants in general, and to regulate their development in Panama, the Government is drawing up a new legal framework. (evwind.es)
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ACP Will Manage The Chilibre Water Treatment Plant

Infrastructure UpgradesPresident Ricardo Martinelli announced today that the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant will be managed by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). He said next week he will meet with ACP authorities and that they will be the ones who will administer, manage and operate the Chilibre water treatment plant. "We need the Canal Authority to take control of the water treatment plant so that the situation which we have been going through since 8 December 2010 does not happen again in the capital city," he added. Martinelli said the law which regulates the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) must be changed in order to give them additional further autonomy and financial capability. (Panama America)

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli

Editor's Comment: Message = The IDAAN doesn't know how to effectively manage a water treatment plant. What about the plants in La Chorrera? Is the ACP going to run them as well?

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Government Demands That Chilibre Water Plant Produce At Maximum Levels

Infrastructure Upgrades With the recent crisis in the Chilibre water treatment structural failures have emerged, especially after the work done by the British company Biwater, which aimed above all to maximize water production. In this regard, Rómulo Roux, Minister of Canal Affairs and head of the water crisis, announced that the plant is currently working with four to five pumps, and sometimes six. Roux said the plant should produce 250 million gallons of water, but the maximum that it currently produces is 180 million gallons, which for the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (Idaan) is a great achievement. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: They call this a "great achievement" because the level of turbidity in the raw source water of Lake Alajuela still has not returned to normal levels. The plant has a total of six pumps and what they have been doing is rotating one off line as they clean out the accumulated sediment. The problem is that this project to expand the plant is not producing to the specifications dictated by the government contract, and now all of that is being called into question. The Chilibre water treatment plant might be able to produce the required 250 million gallons of water per day, in optimum conditions. However the people who still don't have regular water service are demanding answers, and the pressure apparently prompted the Director of IDAAN to resign this week.

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A New Bridge and Highway Following The Pacific Coast

Infrastructure UpgradesPublic Works Minister, Federico Jose Suarez announced the construction of a new bridge and a new roadway that would reach a point between Salalices and Chame, that would follow the coast, in order to prevent traffic jams in Vacamonte and La Chorrera, and for the country's development. He said the new highway would have six lanes. Minister Suárez, who had already spoke about their intentions to build this roadway during previous interviews on TVN, said this time they have conducted the study to estimate the cost of the project. He said the new route would be a toll road. He also said they have performed the technical evaluations, faced with the need and urgency of the project.

The Minister was also concerned with the traffic jam that occurred last weekend on the highway from Arraiján to La Chorrera, which was due to an operation that was being conducted in the area, and the influx of visitors to the fair of La Chorrera. Minister Suarez said the traffic jam was horrible, and we must look for alternatives, and therefore he anticipated that this Thursday he will meet with officials of the Transit Authority and the Transit Police.

The Minister also referred to the work being done to repair the collapsed roadway that accesses the Centennial Bridge, and stated this repair project might take another five months to complete. He said they have driven 83 pilings to stabilize the area, and they would build a retaining wall as part of the final design of a new extension of roadway to reach the bridge that is 178 meters in length from where the road collapsed. He said now there is a retaining wall and pilings to save the section of roadway that did not collapse. Minister Suarez reaffirmed that if the work is considered stable it will remain as it is, or they will make small adjustments, but it will function as filler held in place by the retaining wall and stabilized by the pilings, topped by the roadway to the bridge. The rest of the road is also being repaired, the minister said, indicating that on the three hills that have frequently had mudslides, they are still working there. The Minister said that they are working so that when the roadway is reopened, they will do partial openings. (TVN Noticias)

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IDAAN and MINSA Say Water Is Now Fit For Human Consumption

Infrastructure UpgradesThe water crisis which has been going on in Panama City for the past 47 days seems to finally have come to an end. At a press conference, Manuel Ruiz, the Director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), announced that the water coming from the taps is fit for human consumption. "The analysis of the Ministry of Health indicates there is no contamination," he said. The IDAAN report indicates turbidity levels in the water coming from the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant have dropped below 5 nephelometric units, and therefore is acceptable for consumption. The water shortage began on 7 December when floods and mudslides generated high levels of turbidity in Lake Alajuela, and has affected Panama City and the district of San Miguelito which have 880,691 and 315,019 inhabitants, respectively.

You Should Not Be Charged For January - The IDAAN will not bill their customers for the month of January due to the irregular supply of water that has been going on for the past 47 days. The 60 water tanker trucks that are distributing water to 40 communities located in the districts of Pedregal, Río Abajo, San Francisco, Parque Lefevre, Betania, Las Cumbres, and 24 de Diciembre will continue to operate until the normal supply of water is restored.

During the crisis some water bottling companies were offering to fill containers for a fee. Such is the case of the company Agua Santa Sofia, located in the Los Pueblos mall, which charges 50 cents per gallon and $ 3.00 for five gallons. Jenny Calle, a customer of the company, believes the sale of water is taking place at a reasonable price. Pedro Meilan, the Administrator of the Authority for Consumer Protection and Competition, said the activity is not illegal and it is up to each company to decide if they want to sell or give away the water. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Well, it's official. I hope you have all learned your lesson. By now you should have installed your own water tank and filters. It became blazingly apparent during this entire crisis that in Panama City the infrastructure to produce drinking water is inadequate at a fundamental level. One little glitch and a million people go without water. Remember when all of the new high rise buildings were first going up and there were questions about shortages of basic and fundamental infrastructure? What we just witnessed was a whole flock of chickens coming home to roost, and there's probably more on the way. Learn from what has happened, adjust, adapt, and overcome.

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Airfield in Azuero Rehabilitated For Tourism Development

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Mayor of the District of Guararé, Luis Carlos Sanchez, requested the appointment of permanent 24 hour staff to monitor the new Augusto Vergara airfield, located in the village of La Enea, in this community. The Mayor said the surveillance is necessary to prevent the airfield from being used for illegal purposes, and that during the night there are no guards, and no lights.

Optimism - Sanchez hopes that with the rehabilitation of this airfield flights will start to come and go to and from this place, with the aim of promoting tourism in the peninsula of Azuero. Recently, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) inaugurated the new airfield after restoration work was completed. This region has the first airfield prepared for the tourist development of the Azuero peninsula. The project also contemplates the rehabilitation of the terminal building, the restructuring and paving of the runway, the installation of a perimeter fence and a new platform (parking area) for aircraft. (Mi Diario)

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"Water Still Cannot Be Declared Fit For Human Consumption"

Infrastructure Upgrades Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, announced today it is still too early to declare that the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant is fit for human consumption. Roux said they are still working on the Chilibre plant that was affected by high turbidity levels of Lake Alajuela. "Until we can ensure that we consistently produce water below the five levels of turbidity we do not want to declare that the water is drinkable," said Roux, who chairs the Interagency Commission formed to address the crisis. Moreover, the minister said on channel 2 TVN News, that they are increasing production and improving water quality at the Chilibre plant to achieve the levels as they were before the crisis started after the rains of last December. As of today, the water crisis has been ongoing for 49 days. (La Prensa)
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Work To Repair Centennial Bridge Access Road Might Not Be Done Until September

Infrastructure UpgradesAnyone who thought the work to repair the damage to the roadway leading to the Centennial Bridge was going to be quick and easy was wrong. Engineering calculations show the work that needs to be done is not going to be quick, easy, or inexpensive. While they are working at full speed, and against inclement weather, officials of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) believe that everything could be completed between July and September 2011. Estimates are that the repairs could cost between $15 to $20 million dollars. According to the engineer Masiel Acosta, the Deputy Director of Inspection for the MOP, the work on the project should advance according to schedule. "The project could be delayed and the costs might increase due to bad weather. This situation must be taken into account by the company responsible for delivering the work," said Acosta, who inspects progress on the project daily. There are about 100 people working on this project, including those that deal directly with the piles, reinforcing cages and drivers who work for the company FCC, which is responsible for the work. One of Acosta's goals is to keep them from doing a bad job, and in the end having to spend more money due to irresponsibility. (Mi Diario)

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Water Crisis Could End Today

Infrastructure Upgrades The Ministry of Health will determine today through the use of a bacteriological study of the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment to see if it is fit for human consumption. According to the Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, experts working in the plant implemented a new substance for treating the water with the aim of improving the quality of treated water. The engineer Carlos Vargas, of the Panama Canal Authority, said that with the new dosing and reduction of turbidity it will be easier to produce the quantity and quality of adequate water. (La Critica)

Editor's Comment: They have been waiting for a few more days for the turbidity in the pipes to settle out, and they are leaving it up to the Ministry of Health to make the formal declaration that the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant is fit for human consumption once again. One thing is clear - the "system" is now running much closer to maximum capacity and there is no room for error. Meaning, if the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant is not running at 100% of capacity, then someone in Panama City is going without water service. Obviously the government of Panama should invest - right now - in an expansion of the capacity of the plant, to build new plants, and to interconnect the existing plants. As it was they had to truck water from La Chorrera to Panama City, for example, because they had excess production capacity up there and an insufficient production capability in Panama City. Why not build a network of pipelines that would allow water from one plant to be quickly and easily distributed to other areas - without having to rely on trucks. Anyway, it looks like the "water crisis" is slowly coming to an end, Thank God. And yes, for the record, I will look for any excuse to put a photo of a hot chick in a bikini on the website. This one is taking a shower. With water. Get it?

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Situation At Chilibre Water Treatment Plant Gradually Improving

Infrastructure UpgradesStabilization is the word used by Rómulo Roux, the Minister for Canal Affairs, in referring to the crisis facing the Chilibre water treatment plant, which has been going on for more than 40 days. Rómulo Roux, who chairs the interagency committee to address this crisis, confirmed that the increased flow into Lake Alhajuela has allowed for the gradual increase of the production of the plant. According to the Minister, who appeared this morning on the channel 13 Telemetro Report news broadcast, more water is being delivered to the homes in the capital and San Miguelito district. This operation has led to a slight increase in turbidity due to the sediments found in the sedimentation basins and filters. Roux explained that with the installation of new feeders they will test a new polymer to purify the water and thus to further increase the flow. Since 8 December 2010, the water treatment plant has faced difficult to work due to the intensity of a storm that caused mudslides into Lake Alajuela, which feeds the Chilibre water treatment plant. (Telemetro)
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