Medellín Metro News 79
Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia department are likely to see 3.3% growth this year in gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials), according to the latest forecast by the Camara de Comercio de Medellin para Antioquia (CCM), the local chamber of commerce.
Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) announced March 9 the start of construction on the “Vias del Nus” highway project linking Medellin suburbs northward to major Atlantic ports including Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta.
The COP$1.1 trillion (US$366 million) project -- also known as “Vinus”-- is financed privately, with Colombia’s Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional (FDN) having arranged loans from investor-partners including International Finance Corporation, Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporatión and Colombia’s Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público (see Medellin Herald on January 25, 2017).
Scheduled for completion by 2021, the “Vinus” highway system would run 157.4 kilometers and would enable freight and passenger vehicles to travel at speeds averaging 80 kilometers per hour -- slashing travel time between Medellín and Cartagena to 14 hours, down from 24 hours today, according to ANI.
When complete, “Vinus” will connect to Puerto Valdivia, linking with the “Rio Magdalena 2” and “Conexión Norte” highways, ANI noted.
“This project will push forward development and progress in Antioquia and in the entire country, given that it will be part of the highway connection to the Middle Magdalena region, the northeast of Antioquia and the new highway corridor to [the Atlantic ports of] Coveñas and Cartagena,” added ANI president Luis Fernando Andrade.
The first phase of construction involves rehabilitation of 35.6 kilometers of highway between Cisneros and Alto Dolores. Then -- over the next four years -- 24.3 kilometers of four-lane, divided highway between Pradera and Porcesito will be built. The "Vinus" project also includes new, twin tunnels (each of 4.1 kilometers) at the La Quiebra pass, plus a new link to Cisneros, plus 2.7 kilometers of a third lane of highway between San José del Nus and Alto Dolores.
By 2021, the “Vinus” project will form part of 97.5 kilometers of four-lane divided highway including the section between the Medellin suburb of Bello and Hatillo, ANI noted.
The Metropolitan Police for Medellin and the Valley of Aburrá announced February 27 that alias “Marulo” – one of four accused killers of two foreign visitors to Medellin last year -- has just voluntarily surrendered, following police investigations and citizen information.
Colombia’s civil aviation authority (Aeronautica Civil de Colombia, ACC) announced February 13 that Medellin’s international airport (Jose Maria Cordova, JMC) saw 2016 passenger counts jump 11.3% year-on-year, to 7.68 million.
Colombia’s National Police (Policia Nacional de Colombia, PNC) announced February 3 that they have captured the accused murderer of Japanese tourist Ryo Izaki.
Cormagdalena – the Colombian government agency overseeing a proposed dredging project that would dramatically improve freight movements on the Magdalena River – announced January 31 that project developer Navelena now faces a February 22 deadline to present a new financing scheme.
Medellin’s decades-long battle to overcome logistical isolation from world markets took two more steps this month as highway concessionaire Devimed partially cleared a huge landslide blocking the Medellin-Bogota highway -- and the crucial “Mar 2” project linking Medellin to Atlantic ports also finally got its financial close.
The annual “Medellin Como Vamos” (“How Are We Doing?”) citizen survey released December 6 found that most residents are generally positive about living conditions. But pollution, traffic and health services remain as top concerns.
Medellin’s air pollution is mainly the result of a huge increase in vehicle traffic combined with large numbers of obsolete, black-smoke-belching trucks and buses, plus blue-smoke-belching motorcycles (see: “Medellin, Bogota Suffer Nation’s Worst Air Pollution,” Medellin Herald, November 24, 2016)
A massive, accelerated conversion of the Medellin vehicle fleet to modern, ultra-low-emissions Euro-6 or U.S. EPA 2010 (and later) engine technologies eventually could slash vehicle emissions by more than 90% -- drastically reducing respiratory inflammation and diseases. Unfortunately, vehicle fleet turnover isn’t moving fast enough.
Noise pollution is also a big concern, with 81% saying they’re unhappy about excessive noise from certain businesses or neighbors (including bars, night-clubs, fireworks) and vehicle noise in certain areas.
As for mobility, 37% of citizens said that they now use taxis, mini-buses or private buses, while 34% use the Metro trains, the "Metroplus" rapid-transit buses or the "Metrocable" aerial trams. Another 20% said they only use private cars or motorcycles, while the remaining 10% said they walk or use bicycles.
In total, 44% of Medellin’s citizens complain that their commutes have lengthened recently because of ever-growing traffic jams.
As for crime index, 73% of citizens said they feel secure in their neighborhoods -- but only 51% said that the entire city is relatively safe. In total, 15% of citizens said they had been victims of some sort of crime in the past year, but only 40% bothered to report the crime.
As for public health services, Colombia’s national health-sector financial crisis has been getting worse every year, with ever-more hospitals and clinics severing ties with troubled “EPS” organizations -- similar to the health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the United States. Nationally, various EPS organizations are hundreds of millions of dollars behind in reimbursement for clinic and hospital services.
In total, 70% of Medellin citizens surveyed said that they had required some sort of medical attention in the last year. Of those, 86% actually got attention, while 14% didn’t.
More than 60% of those with some illness first went to a hospital or clinic emergency ward, while the remainder sought appointments from an EPS. Among the latter group, 62% had to wait one-to-five days for service, while the remaining 38% waited six or more days for service.
In total, 56% of those receiving health services said they were “satisfied,” while 24% were “unsatisfied” and the other 20% neutral, the survey found.
The survey of 1,504 homes in all areas and all economic strata -- conducted by polling firm Ipsos-Napoleon Franco – employed a model that focused upon perceptions of relative economic well-being, job opportunities, personal activities, urban habitat, perceptions of local government and competitiveness.
The over-all result showed that 77% consider Medellin as “on the right track,” while 84% think Medellin is a “satisfactory” place to live and 80% are proud of their city.
Some 21% of citizens rank themselves as “poor” economically, with the Northeastern zone considered as the poorest of all city neighborhoods.
Another 29% of citizens consider that Medellin suffers relatively high inequality in terms of salaries, quality of health-care and quality of housing. Another 29% of citizens stated that more investment in education would reduce inequality.
Citizens overwhelmingly rank health, employment and education as top priorities for the city.
In total, 59% of citizens expressed optimism about Medellin’s economic growth, while 34% said that their own economic situation has improved recently.
In homes that have children, 71% of those surveyed said that they were satisfied with the schooling received, while 11% were unsatisfied and 18% were neutral.
As for perceptions about city government, 90% of citizens said they have a favorable impression of Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez, while 58% said they believe his initiatives so far have been “good” or “very good,” the survey found.
Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced December 5 that upgrades to the existing, two-lane highway between the southern Medellin suburb of Primavera and the municipality of La Pintada (adjacent to the Cauca River) have now been completed.