Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Monday, September 01 2014 @ 09:39 AM EDT

View Printable Version

Government Will Build 47km Of New Sewer Lines In San Miguelito

Infrastructure Upgrades"Today we reaffirm the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Panama to provide all Panamanians access to basic sanitation, under the Sanitation Project City of Panama and the program 100 / ZERO" said the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez on Monday afternoon, during the announcement of the tender for the second phase of sewer networks of San Miguelito. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

No Water On Sunday...

Infrastructure UpgradesSeveral sectors of Panama City will be without water service on Sunday. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

MOP Announces Partial Closure of the Bridge of the Americas

Infrastructure UpgradesWork being done on the Bridge of the Americas will cause headaches for drivers this Saturday, August 23rd. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Louis Berger lands Panama City Metro Line 2 management contract

Infrastructure UpgradesMorristown, N.J.-based Louis Berger, as part of the Consorcio PML2, has signed a five-year, $32 million contract to oversee construction of the Panama City Metro Line 2, Central America’s first rapid transit system.

The Consorcio PML2—comprised of Louis Berger and Spanish consultant partners Ayesa and Metropolitan Transports of Barcelona—was selected for the project after receiving the highest proposal score based on technical and economic criteria.

The new 13-mile line is the second of four lines in the government’s plan to provide efficient, sustainable transport in the Panama City metropolitan area, which supports 1.2 million residents. Line 2 includes 16 stations along an elevated alignment from an interchange with Line 1 at San Miguelito serving the districts of December 24, among others.

“We are honored to play a key role in the second line of the Panama metro system and welcome the opportunity to assist in developing Panama’s transportation network,” said Sofia Berger, Louis Berger’s vice president in charge of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Louis Berger is combining local knowledge with global expertise to deliver solutions tailored for the people of Panama,” said D. James Stamatis, president of Louis Berger’s international operations.

“As one of the largest engineering firms in the world with regional headquarters in Panama, we will work closely with our Panama Metro client to deliver a transportation solution for the people of Panama by combining our 50-year history within the transportation sector in Latin America with our extensive global rail expertise, which includes signature programs in Ankara, Turkey; Bangkok, Thailand; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Doha, Qatar; and Mumbai, India.” (Press Release)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama: Concession Awarded for Mini Hydro Station

Infrastructure UpgradesThe grant is for the construction and operation of a hydroelectric station of 4MW known as Analida in the province of Cocle. From a statement issued by the National Authority of Public Services Panama:

Resolution:

"...FIRST: AWARD to the company HIDROELÉCTRICA RÍO CHICO, S.A., registered on Listing 833361, Document 2597265, in the Mercantile Microfilm Section of the Public Registry of Panama, rights to a concession for the construction and operation of the hydropower plant called Analida, using the waters of the river Chico, located in the village Las Huacas, Capellania and La Toza, District of Nata, Cocle Province, with an installed capacity of 4 MW. "

"...SECOND: AUTHORIZE the company HIDROELÉCTRICA RÍO CHICO, S.A. to proceed to request from the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) approval for the Study of Environmental Impact for the Analida project and to carry out the necessary activities for the elaboration of a Water Concession Agreement with the endorsement of the Comptroller General of the Republic. "

Editor's Comment: The construction of this facility would represent a relatively small increase to Panama's generation capacity, but at this point increases are necessary in hydro, as well as other sources such as bunker, wind, solar. The hydro plants do well during the rainy season but their reservoirs tend to run dry if the rains don't come on time...

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Increase In Power Cost Will Generate Speculation

Infrastructure UpgradesCarlos Carcache, the former secretary of energy and manager of the Power Generation Company (EGESA) noted that an increase in the cost of electricity will generate speculation. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

A Quarter Of Western Panama Suffers From Water Shortages

Infrastructure UpgradesThe lack of a continuous supply of potable water in the Western part of the Province of Panama is of great importance. Almost a quarter of its population do not receive the service from IDAAN, in part, due to the lack of contracts, the low efficiency of the service, and the custom of obtaining drinking water from natural sources, many of them unhealthy. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Water Main Bursts - Flooding Streets And Disrupting Traffic

Infrastructure UpgradesA water pipe burst in the area of El Crisol, in the district of San Miguelito, is causing the waste of a large amount of water and hampering the passage of vehicular traffic through the area. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

No Water Service Today In Several Areas of Panama City

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Institute of National Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) announced today via their Twitter account that several areas of Panama City will be without water service today, due to maintenance work. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama Cancels Emergency Energy Saving Measures - Rainy Season Started...

Infrastructure UpgradesThe National Secretariat of Energy announced that starting on Monday, June 16, the emergency energy conservation measures implemented in the private sector since April 10th will be cancelled. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Martinelli Sets Metro Fare At 35 Cents One Way, 70 Cents Round Trip

Infrastructure UpgradesThe President of the Republic of Panama Ricardo Martinelli announced that the round trip cost of riding the new Metro subway system will be 70 cents. (more)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama Still In The Dark

Infrastructure UpgradesThe company La Empresa de Transmisión Eléctrica S.A. (ETESA) said through a press release they have recovered 70% of the electrical load at the substations in Chiriquí, the central provinces, and La Chorrera.

With regards to the capital Panama City area, they said they have started the recovery process, and it may take a few minutes to complete.

According to ETESA, there was an event that occurred in the area of Changuinola in Bocas del Toro at 8:04 am this morning.

The capital city was left without electricity, and according to Vivian Pineda, a spokeswoman for the company Gas Natural Fenosa, the outage was caused by "damage to an electrical transmission line."

ETESA's transmission line forms part of a concession extending from the area of Ave 12 de Octubre in Panama City to the Panama - Costa Rica border, said Pineda.

The blackouts caused traffic chaos in Panama City, due to the lack of traffic lights. (Siglo)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Roberto Roy Disassociates National Blackout From Damage To Metro Subway System (Godzilla?)

Infrastructure Upgrades The Secretary of the Metro Roberto Roy responded to speculation about a possible relationship between the electrical problems on Monday morning in the new Metro subway system, and the subsequent blackout that affected several provinces.

Roy said there was no relationship between the two incidents via his Twitter account. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: In the first incident, a piece of wire mesh fell on an electrical line, and the Metro system was shut down as a safety precaution. Then just a few minutes later, a power transmission line that brings bulk energy to Panama City from Costa Rica failed, putting much of Panama into a blackout. Roy says the two incidents are unrelated. Actually, it was Godzilla who ripped down the power lines, and he's currently marching towards Panama City, eating small sedans and tossing mini buses as he goes...

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Blackout In Panama City

Infrastructure UpgradesMany parts of Panama City were without electricity starting at about 8:10 this morning.

According to according to Vivian Pineda, a spokeswoman for the company Gas Natural Fenosa, "it is a damage to the transmission line."

The transmission line is part of Etesa concession. It extends from the area of 12 del Octubre in Panama City to the Costa Rican border, said Pineda. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Metal Mesh Falls On Power Line - Metro System Knocked Out Of Service

Infrastructure UpgradesService on the new Panama Metro mass transportation system was disrupted this morning, Monday, 12 May, after a metal mesh fell onto an overhead power line that supplies power to the system, said Roberto Roy, the Secretary of the Metro.

Roy said the incident occurred at the new Metro station being built in the area of El Ingenio, forcing them to temporarily stop service, for safety reasons.

He said there was no failure or damage in the transportation system, as had been announced.

He said it was an unfortunate accident which should be resolved as soon as possible by their technical staff.

It was reported that two trains were stranded and riders were evacuated from the overhead rails to the Metro station at 12 de Octubre, in a joint operation by the National Police and the Fire Department of Panama. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Damage Takes Bahia Las Minas Power Plant Offline

Infrastructure UpgradesThe coal burning power plant operated by GDF Suez located in Bahia Las Minas in the province of Colon, with the capacity to produce up to 120 megawatts, was taken off line on Thursday afternoon due to a problem in the system.

In mid-March an electrical panel at the Panam plant in La Chorrera caught fire, removing the 93 megawatt facility from the system.

The coal burning plant is the second thermal production facility that has gone inoperative during this dry season, further narrowing the gap between supply and demand for electricity in the country.

These two plants produce a combined total of more than 200 megawatts that must be supplied by other sources, in order to avoid having to ration the supply of electrical power among users.

Due to the damage to the coal plant, the National Dispatch Center has had to use more power from hydro generation, further reducing the water supply in the reservoirs.

The operations and maintenance team from the Bahia Las Minas power plant are working to return the plant to operation, said Fernando Tovar, the Director of the company GDF Suez Energy Central America. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Village Of The Dammed

Infrastructure UpgradesBy Lawrence Reichard - On several occasions Ngäbe-Buglé activists and their indigenous, Latino, labor and supporters have blocked the nearby Pan-American Highway, Panama’s chief economic lifeline. ... But they’ve paid a heavy price for their militancy. At least two protesters have been killed in clashes with police.

Walking along the stone and dirt road that follows the Tabasará River to the construction site of Panama’s controversial Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam is a bit like stepping into a Gabriel García Márquez novel, one titled Chronicle of a Battle Foretold. The road is blocked by huge felled trees and seemingly endless piles of rocks and boulders. You know the battle’s coming, but you don’t know when, or how violent it will be.

The roadblocks were put in place by indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé activists who say that the private Panamanian company that’s building the Barro Blanco dam, Generadora del Istmo S.A. (Genisa), built the road so Panamanian police can cross the rough terrain and evict potentially hundreds of Ngäbe-Buglé protesters. The Ngäbe-Buglé firmly refuse to leave the land—their land—that is slated to be inundated by the dam. The trees, rocks and boulders they’ve used to block the road might not pose much of a challenge for Genisa’s heavy equipment, but the gaping hole that they tore through Genisa’s makeshift bridge over the deep, fast-flowing Tabasará could be a real problem.

High up on a bluff overlooking the Barro Blanco construction site and the scarred Tabasará, hundreds of Ngäbe-Buglé demonstrators have constructed a makeshift protest camp replete with banners and flags and one small, rudimentary, three-wall structure made of palm fronds. Scores of protesters sleep under the stars on tarps and pieces of cardboard. They eat handfuls of Froot Loops, and refried beans are dished out of a five-gallon bucket into cutaway plastic soda bottles.

A few hundred yards away on another rough dirt road, a small contingent of police wearing shirts that read “ANTI-DISTURBIO” (anti-riot) keeps an eye on the camp.

Defying heat in the upper 90s, a young man sitting beside me is covered from head to toe, masking his identity. Only his eyes show. “Where are we supposed to go?” he says. “This is our land. We live here. We have always lived here.” This refrain is repeated over and over by the Ngäbe-Buglé.

Construction of the hydroelectric project began in 2011, and resistance to it has been fierce. On several occasions Ngäbe-Buglé activists and their indigenous, Latino, labor and supporters have blocked the nearby Pan-American Highway, Panama’s chief economic lifeline. In one 2012 action, they grabbed national headlines by shutting down the road for more than eight days. But they’ve paid a heavy price for their militancy. At least two protesters have been killed in clashes with police. And now, with construction of the dam approaching completion, the stakes are even higher.

Genisa has said that only 14 acres of land and five indigenous families will be affected by the dam. According to Ngäbe-Buglé activists, those five families have all refused offers from Genisa of between $1,000 and $4,000 each to abandon the lands they have cultivated, hunted, fished and lived on for what they call “forever.”

But Ricardo Miranda, a Ngäbe activist fighting the dam, says that more than 400 Ngäbe-Buglé will be displaced and another 3,500-plus will lose farmland, hunting and fishing grounds, and access to fresh, clean, potable water. A 2013 report from the United Nations Development Programme concluded that it’s likely that three Ngäbe-Buglé villages will eventually be flooded by the project. Gone too will be four pre-Columbian petroglyphs, which, according to Panamanian archaeologist Jonathan González, are protected national monuments. (Genisa did not respond to a request for comment.)

Genisa is incorporated in Panama, but its board chairman is Luis Kafie, one of the richest men in Honduras. According to Genisa’s website, the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca’s General Congress delegated a decision on Barro Blanco to the Regional Congress of Kädriri, which approved the project. But Ricardo Miranda insists that the agreement is invalid because the congress is not authorized to negotiate a land deal with a private company, and that in such cases a public referendum is required.

Barro Blanco is being financed by the Dutch FMO Bank, the German DEG Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). All the banks’ websites tout their environmental and social responsibility, and Miranda says he hopes solidarity groups in Holland and Germany will pressure FMO and DEG to adhere to official European Union social responsibility standards and abandon Barro Blanco.

In the meantime, the Ngäbe-Buglé have taken their fight right to Genisa and the Panamanian government. Their first protest camp was a mile or two upstream from, and out of sight of, the dam’s construction site. But in March they upped the ante and moved the camp downstream to its current location, within eyesight of the construction site. Panama has national elections coming up on May 4, and few think the government will move on protesters before the election. But all bets are off if the protesters move on to the Barro Blanco construction site, which they have said they likely will—although they won’t say when.

Miranda is the general coordinator of the April 10 Movement (M-10), an organization founded by Ngäbe-Buglé activists in April 1999 to defend the Tabasará watershed from exploitative hydroelectric projects, and in an interview in Panama City, Miranda said that M-10 is ready if the government moves against the protesters. According to Miranda, 20 labor unions and indigenous and campesino groups have committed to shutting down major roads and highways in at least 15 spots scattered throughout the country if Barro Blanco construction is not halted soon. Miranda added that at least some roads will be closed if the government attacks the Ngäbe-Buglé protest camp.

Meanwhile, the Panamanian government is ratcheting up the pressure. On March 20, Miranda says, the government issued warrants for him and for his uncle and fellow activist Manolo Miranda. And activists blame the government for a recent wave of cell phone malfunctions affecting their ranks. With Panama’s economy booming, electricity shortages widening, and the Ngäbe-Buglé digging in to defend their land, the real battle over Barro Blanco may be just beginning. (inthesetimes.com)

Editor's Comment: This article makes passing reference to Panama's booming economy and looming energy shortage - in the every last line. In fact - that's the headline. A simple fact of life is that no matter where you build a hydroelectric plant, anywhere in the world, someone is going to be displaced by the waters rising behind the dam. Every time. In this case in Panama it's 14 acres of land that will be flooded, and five families will be displaced. And of course the people who are protesting the dam and trying to stop it will inflate those numbers, and at the same time those who are building the dam will try to minimize the numbers. Reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

This project is another example of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one." Millions of people in Panama plug things in and turn things on, every day. Panama simply needs more electrical power generation capacity to continue growing. This project will be completed. The protesters will lose their struggle, and will be removed. It's a foregone conclusion, and the only thing that remains to be defined are the details, and how events unfold between here and there.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Water Main Breaks - And Floods A House in Bethania

Infrastructure UpgradesA house was flooded this morning in Bethania, after a break in a water main pipe located in the Via Camino Real.

Two older adults had to be rescued from house number 531, located behind the police station in Bethania, by members of the National Civil Protection System.

The pipe broke this morning. Work crews from the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers are already working to repair the break. (Mi Diario)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Part Removed From Metro That Was Causing Trains To Stop Unexpectedly

Infrastructure UpgradesRoberto Roy, Director of the Secretariat of the Panama Metro, reported on his Twitter account last night they moved a piece that was stopping the trains for a few minutes.

"Last night we changed the part that was stopping the trains for a few minutes. It's called the SDD or Secondary Detection Device. All is OK now," Roy wrote.

Roy described the part as a magnet, a device on the track, which caused the train to stop unexpectedly.

In any case, Roy said these problems did not pose any danger to passengers.

Sometimes the trains stopped for several minutes at various stations, beyond what they are supposed to stop for the boarding and exit of passengers.

When this happened, a male voice on the train's public address system expressed apologies because the train had stopped for several minutes, without elaborating on the reasons why. (TVN)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit Against Barro Blanco Hydro Electric Project in Panama

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Supreme Court rejected a claim against Articles 120 and 130 of Law 6 of Law 6 of February 3, 1997, which allows the compulsory acquisition by the state of several parcels of land found in the area where the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project in the province of Chiriqui is being built.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Felix Wing, representing Raul Rodriguez , after the Public Services Authority began a process of compulsory acquisition in the area of ​​Barro Blanco, for the development of the new hydro electric power generation facility.

According to the claim, Articles 120 and 130 of Law 6 of February 3, 1997 violate Article 51 of the Constitution, which establishes the concept of expropriation of land in cases of war or serious social disruption.

However, the Supreme Court found in this case the applicant's arguments are unfounded and without legal basis. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The Barro Blanco hydro facility is a large project that is sorely needed in Panama, to increase the amount of energy being supplied to the national power grid. The simple fact is that the nation's ability to generate electricity has not kept pace with the growth and expansion of the economy over the past decade, and the construction of new apartments, office buildings, malls, and things like the Metro subway system (which runs electric trains.) So this is one of those cases where the project is going to get built no matter what, regardless of what the environmentalists or lawyers have to say about it.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

More Than 30,000 People In La Chorrera Still Without Water

Infrastructure UpgradesMore than 30,000 people living in the various communities of La Chorrera and Arraiján, in the Western part of the province of Panama, are still without drinking water service after the rupture of a 60" water main last Thursday, 17 April 2014.

The director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers in La Chorrera, Maximino Quintero, said repair work continues, and in the meantime they have contracted the services of additional water tank trucks to supply the affected sectors.  

For its part, the National System of Civil Protection has three mobile water treatment plants they are using to supply drinking water to the community, two in El Trapichito and one in El Chorro de La Chorrera, Idaan reported.  

The IDAAN through their Twitter account reported that in cooperation with the Panama Canal Authority they have conducted several maneuvers to achieve adjustment of the coupler, without positive results.

They said the couplers have to be installed under pressure, and they have so far been unable to join the two lengths of pipe.

At 9:00 am today the authorities from the IDAAN will hold a press conference to provide additional details. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Repair Work Continues On 60" Water Main in Western Panama Province

Infrastructure UpgradesWork crews from the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) continue with the repair of a line of 60" water main which broke on Thursday April 17 in La Chorrera.

They have been working for more than 20 hours straight, to restore drinking water service in the affected areas of the West of Panama City.

IDAAN, through their Twitter account, reported their work crews from the metropolitan region are helping with the repairs on this important water main.

Currently the IDAAN is providing water directly to those who go to the El Trapichito water treatment plant. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The events of the past two years have clearly demonstrated that anyone living in Panama who depends on the IDAAN for drinking water should always have a backup supply on hand. The water service can go out at any time, with no warning whatsoever. I recommend getting a few of those large 5 gallon water jugs and just have them available, for when you need them. you can always just use them up, then refill them using tap water to keep it fresh. You can expect the water service to go out at least once or twice a year, no matter where you live.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Martinelli at Maracana: "Here in El Chorrillo, We've Done More In Five Years, Than Was Done In The Last 100 Years"

Infrastructure UpgradesAccompanied by 100 children from El Chorrillo, the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, today took to the sports field at the brand new Maracana stadium to inaugurate the facility in the popular Panamanian neighborhood.

In his inaugural speech, the president again emphasized the intensity of his administration since taking office, and he said that in Chorrillo "we have done more in the past five years than has been done in the prior 100."

"We are going to have a new City, and a new Chorrillo" said the president, saying "it gives me joy to see this Coastal Strip and the this Maracana (Stadium) at the entrance of the Panama Canal."

"We have to treat it as part of our patrimony and to take care of it, to give it good use," Martinelli said, adding "it's not only for football games but also for recreational and artistic activities."

"I have fulfilled my promises to the people - so that's why it hurts them when I say I've done more in five years they they did in 50," exclaimed the President of the Republic. He finished by saying "and here in El Chorrillo, I've done more in five years than was done in the past 100."

"I hope that we all know how to take care of your Maracana (Stadium)," said the president, adding "from a simple patch of dirt we have raised this beautiful stadium."

He said "this is unheard of in Panama. The residents of El Chorrillo never thought they would have a stadium like this here. Surely, from here will come the players that will take Panama to World Cup glory."

Reggae singers such as Japanese and Boy C provided the entertainment prior to the start of the official ceremony, which began with the arrival of three parachutists who landed in the center of the soccer field, carrying the official ball of the Brazil 2014 World Cup, “Brazuca.”

The former Brazilian international players of the likes of Bebeto, Rivaldo, Viola, Careca, Ronaldao and Dunga will be playing in an exhibition game to open the stadium, that will serve as an "icon for the sport, to give opportunities to Panamanians to train" said the Public Works Minister, Jaime Ford. The Panamanian players who will play in the exhibition match are: Alfonso Méndez, Germán Julio, Fabián Castillo and Roberto Corvin.

The new sports arena, with a construction cost of $8 million, seats 5,500 people. It meets the FIFA regulatory requirements, has lighting for television broadcasts, has security measures, 111 parking spaces, a press room, public restrooms, as well as dressing rooms for referees, home, and visiting teams, 22 boxes in all (11 on the East side, and 11 on the West side), 20 entrances, and medical clinic, and exam rooms for doping. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Yet another major project delivered and celebrated, now just three weeks before the election. Most of the votes in Panama come from the very populous neighborhoods of Panama City. Martinelli has handed huge gifts to all of these neighborhoods and areas of the city. In El Chorrillo - they have this brand new stadium, together with the Cinta Costera III. In Curundu - Martinelli tore down the old slum and replaced it with brand new buildings. Curundu practically gleems by comparison to what it was in July 2009 when he took office. And the big ka-hoona San Miguelito? Well, they got the Metro.

There's no doubt. This is like watching a slow-motion victory lap. The race took five years to run, and now the victory lap will be taking a month. And with each ribbon cutting ceremony, the hopes of the challengers continue to fade. In short, they got nutin'... Panamanians reward politicians with their votes, when the politicians give them stuff. Martinelli has given them more stuff than anyone else ever has, ever.

Check out this video. You start off at the bottom of the Bridge of the Americas, as if you are just entering Panama City from the Interior. Right at the start the driver splits to the right, and takes the new Cinta Costera III to Paitilla. At one point the passenger, who is filming the trip with a cell phone, rolls down the window and films this new sports stadium as they drive by. The whole trip - from the starting point to the exit at Paitilla - takes just 7:20.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama to build second subway line with tender due in April

Infrastructure UpgradesBY ELIDA MORENO (Reuters) Panama will build a second subway line, with a tender expected before the end of April for construction of the project costing up to $2 billion, the head of the subway said on Wednesday.

Panama's metro, a 13.7 kilometer line that also cost $2 billion, began service last week, becoming Central America's first subway. The second line would stretch 23 kilometers (14 miles) with 17 stations, said Roberto Roy, the executive secretary of the subway.

Roy said he hoped to present potential bidders with details of the project before the end of April, although he added there is no set date.

"Then there will be three months for them to present their bid, and then a month-and-a-half for us to decide," he said.

Panama is in the midst of an infrastructure boom, thanks to the multi-billion dollar expansion of the Panama canal, which has given the small Central American nation the fastest-growing economy in the Americas.

Panama, with a population of around 3.7 million, escaped the worst of the global recession, expanding at an average rate of 8 percent over the past six years.

Editor's Comment: They will be extending the Metro service to Panama's most populated residential districts. Line 1 covers the massive population of San Miguelito. Next will be Tocumen, and I think Line 3 will make it out to Arraijan and La Chorrera, with a dedicated new bridge over the Panama Canal. So they will be spending at least $1 billion per year over the next five years to improve and expand on what they have already built. So just point those TBM's in a different direction and tally ho, bitches ... it's all good.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Martinelli Inaugurated Cinta Costera 3 - Then Sits Down To Eat Fish

Infrastructure UpgradesThe president, Ricardo Martinelli, inaugurated the new Cinta Costera 3 - the third phase of the larger "Coastal Strip" project - this evening, with a big party that was attended by his Ministers, the heads of institutions, and the residents from the neighborhoods of El Chorrillo, Barraza, San Felipe and Santa Ana.

During his speech, Martinelli said "no government in history has invested more in restoring our heritage like this," referring to the restoration work that is still being performed in the Casco Viejo.

He said the Cinta Costera 3 project, which cost $ 782 million, "belongs to the people" and it is a project done for the benefit of the whole country.

After inaugurating the Cinta Costera 3, Martinelli said he was hungry so he sat down to eat at the "fritódromo" (fried food dome) with members of his government to enjoy a plate of fried fish and plantains.

He described the project as "one of the most beautiful of his administration" and that it "will change the life of the city" as will the Panama Metro.

The third phase of the Cinta Costera will interconnect Balboa Avenue with the Avenue of the Martyrs, and integrate the neighborhoods of El Chorrillo , Barraza San Felipe and Santa Ana with the development of the city.

It comprises 19 hectares, in addition to the 2.6 km of roadway, there are bike paths, sidewalks, gazebos, spaces for events, five playgrounds with facilities for children with disabilities, a skate park , sports fields, and a "fritódromo" so that those who sell fried foods, especially in the sector of El Chorrillo, can do it in this new location. In addition there are more than 500 new parking spaces, among other things.

President Martinelli toured the site driving a "buggie" vehicle belonging to the Institutional Protection Service (SPI) , and was leading a tour bus carrying the members of the news media and other special guests. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Another major ribbon cutting event, right before the election. Another $782 million dollars of the taxpayers' money spent, and the product delivered. I wonder what's left to inaugurate, deliver, ribbon-cut, hand over, put into operation, etc. There will probably be two or three per day from now until the election. And every one of these has Varela and Navarro squirming, and seeking some sort of traction. The problem is, they don't have any, and they are not going to get any.

The bottom line = Arias wins with about 50% of the vote on election day. It will be somewhere well above 40%, and I think the last polls will put him about there. I think the final group of undecideds will spring to him when it matters, just like they did in 2009. Everyone knows this is a "continuation" of the Martinelli administration, and that's what they want.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

180,000 People Rode Panama's New Metro Subway System on Monday

Infrastructure UpgradesMany Panamanians have begun to use the new Metro train system, some to commute to work, others out of simple curiosity or just to take a ride, so much so that the number of people using the system is increasing every day.

As of 10:00 pm on Monday a total of 180,000 riders boarded the train, and yesterday it was expected this number will increase.

This figure was revealed by President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, in his tweet: "During the day yesterday (Monday) about 180,000 people used the Panama Metro. Promise fulfilled."

The four stations with the highest passenger movement are Albrook, Los Andes, May 5th, and the El Carmen church.

About 50,000 people passed through the Albrook train station on Monday.

Meanwhile the new "Metro Feeder Routes" (buses) 1 and 3, El Carmen church, University of Panama, Via Argentina, CSS, Punta Pacifica began to operate with light passenger movement.

The demand has been low, said Ana Laura Morais, the Director of Planning and Transport of the Secretariat of the Panama Metro.

On Route 1, approximately 120 riders were moved in the peak period; while on Route 3 there were half.

"We are in the process of making these services known, and it's going gradually," said Morais. They started a program of handing out leaflets on Monday to inform people about the new services.

On each of the feeder routes, from 6:00 am until 9:00 am a bus runs every ten minutes, and during the rest of the day there's one bus every 15 minutes.

There are some 27 routes that are being evaluated to possibly serve as feeders to the Metro train stations.

Eventually 15 would work with the extension of Line 1 to San Isidro.

Among these routes are the 12 de Octubre - Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and 12 de Octubre - Panamá Viejo.

Others would be the routes from Fernández de Córdoba -Parque Omar, Fernández de Córdoba - Betania, and those in the surrounding areas.

Two or three routes entering Pueblo Nuevo, and with the completion of the station at El Ingenio, the routes to the USMA and the 12 de Octubre will arrive there.

Morais said the idea is to try shorter bus routes.

All of these bus feeder routes start working together with the Metro's schedule, at 5:00 am.

The difference is that the buses will continue to run until 10:30 pm, to handle the people who ride on the last train.

In the case of universities, they are seeing if it would be possible to extend the schedule until 11:00 pm.

They think they will be using smaller buses for these short Metro feeder routes.

This issue is being addressed by the Mi Bus company and the Land Transit Authority (ATTT), because they must formalize an addendum to the contract because the original contract did not contemplate the need for these buses.

Morais said the contract has already been written, and the ATTT is deciding on the type of vehicle to be used.

The smaller buses won't necessarily be "Coaster" type buses, the idea initially considered by the Mi Bus company which would involve leasing those buses initially, but now they are thinking of buying them.

These buses should have two doors and double validation, as well as the rest of the specifications contained for the current fleet of Metro Buses.

They will serve as feeders to the Metro train system in places where mobility is complicated, as long as demand allows. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Right now the new Metro system is still a curiosity, so there's a certain number of people riding who won't be using it every day. However there's also a learning curve among those who can and will be using it as part of their daily routine, so the numbers of "regular" riders will be established and then grow out. Every person riding the Metro system is taking pressure off of the streets of Panama City - so there are less bodies using cars, buses, and taxis to get around. And now that the trains are running, they are in the process of fine tuning the "feeder" system of buses that people can use to get from their houses to the train stations, or from the train stations to their job sites.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama Is At The Brink Of An Energy Shortage

Infrastructure UpgradesElectrical power generation in Panama could fall below demand, due to the reduced levels of electricity being generated by the country's hydro electric plants, caused by the delay in the arrival of the rainy season, and a lack of water in the reservoirs behind the dams.

Water levels at the Fortuna dam in Chiriquí yesterday were just six meters above the minimum level necessary to generate electricity.

The Bayano dam, located in the Eastern part of the province of Panama, was just 3.7 meters above the minimum level, enough for approximately 14 more days of power generation.

Based on the daily operations report issued by the National Dispatch Center, in Panama electrical energy generated by hydro electric facilities is currently contributing 37% of the energy being consumed in the country.

If the generation of electricity by these facilities had to be suspended due to a lack of water, there would be a dramatic drop in supply to the national power grid.

The private sector, through a Joint Committee, has asked the national government to implement measures similar to what was done last year in order to avoid the necessity of rationing electricity.

And despite their calls to the private sector, asking people to implement measures of self-sufficiency, many companies and industries have not started using their backup power plants because the government has not yet declared a crisis.

The businessmen are asking the government to take measures to shore up the logistical supply of diesel fuel required for these privately owned backup electrical plants to operate.

They are also asking that the percentage of electricity being purchased and imported from Central America be increased, because right now the percentage is low. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: If the rains don't come soon, enough to start filling up the reservoirs, then you can expect there will be rolling blackouts and other measures to spread out the available amount of electricity among the whole of the population. Now would be a great time to ask the environmentalist Raisa Banfield how she feels about the need for additional electrical power generation facilities to be built in the country. Or even better - wait for the lights to go out and then ask her.

The fact of the matter is that Panama's economy has been expanding by about 9% per year since 2004. That means in the past decade the size of the economy has basically doubled. So therefore, the demand being placed by consumers on the national electrical power grid has also basically doubled. Unfortunately, it simply takes a long time to build new generation capacity - be it hydro, wind, solar, or bunker based.

Looking at the SERVIR images from this morning, it seems the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) remains to our South. A line of very strong storms developing on an East-West axis at about 7 degrees North, or about two degrees South of Panama. Typically in mid-April the ITCZ slides to the North and eventually passes over Panama, causing the start of the rainy season. So today we should be only a couple of weeks away from the start of some serious rain.

However sometimes those rains can be delayed. In the recent past the start of the rainy season has not been seen until June. It's definitely not a good sign that the Fortuna and Bayano dams are close to running out of water on 9 April. This is an indication of the stress increased demand is placing on the existing grid, and production capacity simply cannot keep pace with demand.

Panama Pro Tip - Always have a small backup generator available, and the fuel to run it. The power can (and will) go off at any time. Be prepared to run your generator for a few hours a day at the very least, enough to keep the food in your refrigerator cold or frozen. If you want to go "whole hog" you can invest in a large whole-house backup system that will start up automatically any time the line power drops off. If you've got the money, and if you want everything to work in your house (including the air conditioners) no matter what, then that's your option. However most people can get by with a smaller generator, and just run it as needed.

And in General - You should be prepared to fend for yourself with regards to all of the basics. Have a backup supply of drinking water on hand because you never know when the water is going to get fouled or turned off due to a ruptured pipe or something. Have backups for communications - don't rely on just one means of doing anything. Ask yourself, "what would happen if Mother Nature threw something our way, and we instantly had to go for two straight weeks living off of what we have in the house, right now?" Could you do it? What would you run out of first? Water? Food? Medicines? Toilet paper? Being prepared to go for two weeks on your own will get you over the bridge in most natural disaster scenarios, including earthquakes - which is probably your biggest threat in Panama.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Coastal Strip III To Be Inaugurated Tomorrow

Infrastructure UpgradesPanama's Secretary of Goals announced that the Third Phase of the Cinta Costera ("Coastal Strip") infrastructure project, part of the government's larger New Road Network Plan, will be inaugurated in a ceremony to be held tomorrow, Wednesday, 9 April.

"The Metro has entered into service, and it is a complete success. Now comes the Cinta Costera III on Wednesday, bringing connectivity and delight to all. And there will be more," said the Minister of the Presidency Roberto Henriquez via his Twitter account.

The Cinta Costera III project, together with the already completed first and second stages, is one of the largest projects of this administration in terms of creating more more green spaces to the capital Panama City.

This third phase of the Cinta Costera project will also close the ring between the Northern and Southern Corridors, as well as the North and South axis, improving traffic flow in the capital by 25% to 32%. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The Martinelli administration timed all of these large projects to be completed and delivered right before the election on 4 May, in order to get the best political impact by showing the Panamanian people the tangible benefits of what they have been doing with their tax dollars.

The former president Mireya Moscoso laughably held a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the Centennial Bridge right before the election in 2004, even though the two access roads had not yet been completed and no one could use the damn bridge. When she as asked about that by the press, she said (with a straight face) "I promised to build a bridge, not a road..." And the people first roared with laughter - and then threw her party out of office at the polls a few weeks later.

Martinelli is not making that mistake. Moscoso had just one major project to point to, while Martinelli has dozens of huge projects being completed and delivered right now. Many of these are traffic and roadway related, such as the Metro and the Cinta Costera. However there are many other projects related to other aspects of government spending for public buildings, things like hospitals, prisons, schools, and police stations. No matter where you drive in Panama, you won't go too far before you pass something new and freshly built, to the point where the paint has hardly had time to dry.

Martinelli has set a new standard in this respect, and any future administration will be hard pressed to out perform what they've accomplished over the past five years. And that's why the Panamanian people will vote for Arias and keep the CD in power. They want more of the same. Going back to the PRD or Panameñistas makes no sense at all, in practically any scenario.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panamanians Swarm Metro On First Day Of Operations

Infrastructure UpgradesJust as in a large city, urban traffic in the capital area was fragmented yesterday between those who will stick with the traditional public transportation systems and those who have become infected with "metromania" and will be riding one of the 19 trains of the new mass transit system.

People from all corners, social strata, and political affiliations flocked to one of the 13 operational metro stations, to be part of the historic first day of testing operations with passengers from the public, which will continue for one month.

Xiomara Miller said "it is a wonder; I thought I 'd be afraid. Without a doubt it's the best this government has been able to do."

At the end of the line in Los Andes, the reports from the Secretariat of the Metro were flattering. "We are amazed at how people have received the Metro. People know the procedure for boarding and unloading," said Ana Lucia Morais, a metro transport adviser.

There, at 9:00 am when the first round started, the lines were endless.

First riders had to stand in a line to obtain a swipe card, even though the trip is free.

Administrators made it registration mandatory for those who passed through the turnstiles.

President Ricardo Martinelli accompanied a group of riders from the Metro station at the 5th of May Plaza to the station in Fernández de Córdoba.

During the trip he shook hands, greeted people, and posed for photographs with children and adults.

On the first day of testing, the project manager Carlos Lopez said during the month of testing they will make minor adjustments to details in order to reduce waiting times, with as increasing the speed of the escalators and the speed of the trains.

Yesterday, the testing schedule was extended at the request of the president, until 4:00 pm.

Today, from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm, the entire Metro system will be open to the public, which will allow riders to travel from Albrook to Los Andes in a record time of 23 minutes. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Victory lap. Martinelli and the CD have every right to enjoy the moment. It's a huge accomplishment for his administration, and he's made all of the post dictatorship administration that came before him (Endara, Perez Balladares, Moscoso, Torrijos) look lame by comparison. He's a businessman who ran Panama like a business, and business is good.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama’s president unveiling subway ahead of vote

Infrastructure UpgradesPANAMA CITY (AP) — Counting down his final weeks in office, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli on Saturday is inaugurating the most-emblematic project of a five-year term marked by fast economic growth and more than a hint of hubris — Central America’s first subway system.

The metro will surely alleviate the booming capital’s dreadful traffic. But critics say the $2 billion spent on the 9-mile (14-kilometer) rail line would have been better used building a higher-capacity surface transport network and expanded bus system.

The critics also are unhappy about what they consider Saturday evening’s over-the-top party, with a free concert and fireworks, to celebrate the new subway. They call it a political stunt a month before Panama’s elections to drum up support for Martinelli’s preferred successor, former Housing Minister Jose Domingo Arias.

Trains themselves won’t start running a full schedule until Monday.

Martinelli, who leaves office July 1, isn’t fazed by the criticism. Notably brash with friends and foes alike, the 62-year-old supermarket magnate hasn’t tired of boasting that he has accomplished more in five years than was done in the previous 50. He has an approval rating of 60 percent, and relishes the chance of getting his chosen successor elected, which no incumbent Panamanian president has done since democracy was restored in 1989.

“This is a project that makes the opposition burn,” Roberto Henriquez, a presidential aide, said in a recent television interview. “But gentleman, I’m sorry: The metro is a reality, and next week we’ll be delivering the benefits to all the people.”

Since Martinelli took office in 2009, Panama has spent upward of $15 billion on infrastructure improvements, including new hospitals, airports and 990 miles (1,600 kilometers) of highways. The subway is Panama’s second costliest project in the past century, surpassed only by the current $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal that began before he became president.

“Never has a government done so much for a country and its people,” proclaims a TV ad featuring the subway and a catchy, merengue-tinged chorus of “Promises Fulfilled.”

The government hasn’t announced how much a ride will cost. Instead, it is waiving fares for the first few months in what analysts say is a clear attempt to boost the candidacy of the little-known Arias, who holds a narrow lead in most polls over former Panama City Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro.

Panama’s region-leading infrastructure is a point of pride for many of the country’s 3.4 million people, although the spending hasn’t been without controversy.

Vice President Juan Carlos Varela broke with Martinelli in 2011 and later accused the president and his two sons of taking kickbacks from Italian state-controlled Finmeccanica in exchange for government contracts.

No charges were filed against the president, but the allegation has reinforced perceptions that the construction — which has propelled economic growth averaging 9 percent a year since 2010 — is also fueling corruption and waste. Panama fell 20 places to 102nd in Transparency International’s latest annual ranking of 177 countries on corruption.

The subway cost 30 percent more than the price budgeted when the contract to build it was awarded to Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht SA in 2010. Roberto Roy, the metro’s top executive, says costs rose because of design changes, including construction of two additional stations.

Martinelli’s penchant for self-promotion led to the two giant boring machines used to dig the metro’s more than 4 miles (7 kilometers) of tunnels being named Marta and Carolina, in honor of his wife and daughter.

First lady Marta Linares is Arias’ running mate, a sign that Martinelli will remain influential if his political disciple wins. The president was barred by the constitution from seeking re-election.

Carolina Rodriguez, who works as a maid in the downtown district of flashy, high-rise apartment buildings, doesn’t much mind the political overtones of the subway’s inauguration so long as the train reduces her pre-dawn commute and remains affordable.

“It’s all very pretty and Martinelli says the train will help us,” said Rodriguez, who spends 90 minutes every day commuting in from San Miguelito, a poor neighborhood on the subway’s northern terminus. “Hopefully the train will relieve my daily headache.”

Editor's Comment: I have a massive problem with the paragraph which says "Vice President Juan Carlos Varela broke with Martinelli in 2011 and later accused the president and his two sons of taking kickbacks from Italian state-controlled Finmeccanica in exchange for government contracts." That's simply not accurate.

In fact, Martinelli fired Varela and broke the alliance between the CD and the Panameñista political party, precisely because it was VARELA who was leading the charge on the Finmeccanica deal. When the Lavitola scandal broke in Italy (over his attempt to blackmail the Italian Prime Minister) then all of a sudden the shady dealings with Panama came to light. This, of course, was before the bribes had been paid to the Panamanian officials.

So Martinelli fired Varela for dragging him into the mess. They reduced the Finmeccanica contracts down to the amounts where they should have been at, in the first place, and removed the additional money that would have gone to pay bribes to Varela and others in the Panamanian government (including Martinelli.)

Now Varela is trying to make it look like he quit. That could not be further from the truth. He was tossed out on his ass, and he bears most of the responsibility for having put the whole (corrupt) Finmeccanica deal together in the first place.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks