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Public works of a developing country?

Should we, as a country, get used to delays, excessive costs, and bad quality in public works?
Public works at Zona Rosa, Mexico City – Alonso Romero/EL UNIVERSAL
04/01/2018
08:23
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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As a country, should we get used to having all public works delayed without ever being certain of the reason and despite there was a specific deadline for their completion? Should we get used to discovering public resources for a project doubled or tripled without knowing the exact reasons why?

In the execution of public works – at all Government levels – noncompliance has become a constant, with almost all projects going over the original budget and at a slow construction progress. This a formula in which many lose and only a handful win.

EL UNIVERSAL publishes today a case that, while symbolic, isn't the only one. In Mexico City, the streets of Zona Rosa – after years of inattention – began to be rehabilitated in 2017 – a year ago – with the promise that the works would be completed by August 2017.

A month after the due date, it was announced that the works would conclude during the first week of December. The tragic September 19 earthquake came and then the works were suspended between four or five weeks. With this new delay, it would be logical to assume the streets should be finished by now yet the images shown in this newspaper depict closed roads invaded by heavy equipment, filled with rubble, which represents a risk for pedestrians.

The consequences of failing to comply with these promises are many: neighbors and employees whose lives become miserable as they have to deal with dust, roadblocks, and excessive noise; vendors who are near bankruptcy because of a lack of clients; while the authorities don't even bother explaining the why of the delays.

There are many other cases similar to this one. A few years ago, the budget for the construction of the headquarters of the Senate was estimated at MXN$1.7 billion (roughly USD$87.7 million) and in the end, it cost MXN$4 billion (roughly USD$206.5 million) with many delays. The so-called Golden Line of the subway closed a few months after its opening, and the Government and construction companies saw themselves in the middle of lawsuits over the cost of the project. A more recent case was the Express Passageway of Cuernavaca, which presented the same characteristics: delays regarding the completion date, higher cost of the works, and questionings regarding the quality of the works.

A careful planing considering unforseen circumstances, adherence to a project schedule with transparency throughout the process, and a good quality project is what distinguishes developed countries. This is what we must demand and what we should aspire to.

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