Duque ends term with “gratitude” from Bogotá’s Claudia López

0
943
President Iván Duque and Mayor Claudia López/Alcaldía

It was a swansong farewell as President Iván Duque officiated one of his last public events with Bogotá Mayor Claudia López, three days before he leaves office. Even though Mayor López and President Duque were all smiles with heartfelt embrace included, Mayor López, a vocal supporter of incoming President Gustavo Petro, did on this occasion, effuse gratitude for Duque’s unwavering support in financing the Colombian capital’s largest public works project: Bogotá Metro.

López proceeded to decorate President Iván Duque on behalf of “all Bogotanos” with the district’s highest distinction, the Order of Civil Merit’s Grand Cross. “You are from Bogotá and one of the youngest Presidents that Colombia has had in its history and, in our 484 years. You leave us the largest investment given to the city. This investment is going to change the lives of millions of humble people in our city and in the country. On behalf of the 8 million Bogotanos, our gratitude forever”, she said.

President Duque also received another recognition from the City Council for his support of security measures, including assigning 1,500 police graduates to the Metropolitan Police and subsidizing social welfare and food distribution programs for over 400,000 vulnerable households during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony was hosted by the Mayoralty, Ministry of Transport, and Bogotá Metro company after the national government pledged COP$39.9 billion (US$9.6 billion) for the construction of the Metro’s second line that will run between four of the city’s largest localities: Chapinero, Barrios Unidos, Engativá and Suba. The national government is financing 70% of the construction costs of the Metro, with the district allocating the remaining 30%. The 15.5-km-long Second Line will have 10 underground stations and one elevated at Calle 72 that will connect passengers with Line 1, currently under construction.

The driverless subway trains on Line 2 will be operated automatically from an operational control center. The first subway carriage recently rolled off the assembly line wrapped in a giant red ribbon. The Metro’s Line 2 will be operational in 2032 and was awarded to the French engineering firm Systra.

During the event in which President Iván Duque and Mayor Claudia López signed the co-financing agreement, Duque reiterated the importance of the national government to help bankroll the first 100 percent electric commuter train in the country, the Regiotram de Occidente, and project forecast to cost US$442 million.

Another major infrastructure project that will serve as a transportation hub for commuters connecting from the satellite communities of Madrid, Mosquera, and Funza with the Bogotá Metro and articulated bus network TransMilenio is the Calle 13 trunk road. Construction of the trunk road is estimated at COP$4.97 billion (US$1.1 billion). The 11 km long project includes 14 stations and a municipal/regional bus terminal.

In 2021, as the Colombian capital began to reactivate with the coronavirus pandemic, construction of Line 1 of the Bogotá Metro started with a groundbreaking ceremony at the intersection of Calle 72 with Avenida Caracas. The total cost of Metro de Bogotá will surpass US$12 billion. Metro Linea 1 is expected to be inaugurated in 2028, and the contract was given to Chinese contractors China Harbor Engineering Company and Xi’an Metro Company.

“In this government, we decided that Bogotá could not wait decades to have a second Metro line. That is why, in record time, we financed, signed, and guaranteed the co-financing. What took decades we did in months,” highlighted President Duque. “Bogotá is above political parties and proof of what can be achieved when we all work together with a higher purpose.” And words that Mayor López will transmit to the incoming administration of President Gustavo Petro after four years in which he staunchly opposed the construction of the above-ground Line 1.

Bogotá Metro subway/Metro de Bogotá