Government Will Build Road To Link Colon to Bocas del Toro

Government Will Build Road To Link Colon to Bocas del Toro
Sunday, June 20 2010 @ 10:55 AM EDT

Contributed by: Don Winner

Views: 273

For more than 30 years the different administrations that have been in control of the government in Panama have all promised to build a road to link the provinces of Colón and Bocas del Toro along the extensive Atlantic coastline. To date, only the Inter American Highway crosses the length of the Isthmus of Panama from Chiriqui to the province of the Darien. However, the Northern part of the country remains cut off by land, and by sea access is cumbersome. Mario Miller, the Deputy in the National Assembly who represents the 1-1 District, said the realization of this and other mega-projects will promote sustainable and integrated development that will define both the present and future of Bocas del Toro.
230 km – The road would form the hub of communication in the Northern region of the country and would be more than 230 kilometers (143 miles) long, linking the town of Miguel de la Borda, in the District of Donoso, province of Colon, with the town of Rambala in the district of Chiriqui Grande, Bocas del Toro. In 2008, Carlos Ho, the Director of Special Projects of the Ministry of Public Works, estimated the project would cost $350 million dollars and take about three years to build. According to Miller, the project is one of the most ambitious goals on the agenda of president Ricardo Martinelli, and the proposal is being called the “Gran Costanera” (Grand Coastal.)

Meanwhile, the PRD lawmaker from the same province Benicio Robinson believes the project could bring development to the province, but he doubts the government is serious. “That is just another lie being told by this administration,” he said. But Miller rejects this criticism and says the government has allocated $150 million dollars to start the implementation of the project.

Ancon asks to participate – Meanwhile, Alida Spadafora, the Director of the National Association for the Conservation of Nature (Ancon), made it clear she is not opposed to the governments decision to build the coastal highway project, but asks that first the project should be analyzed with caution. She said the opening of this route will have a direct impact on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which links the region of Chocó, in the Darien, to Southern Mexico. A road of this type could affect different systems of mangroves and forest system that form the biological corridor. Therefore, she said she has asked the Minister of Public Works, Federico Suarez, for advance information on the progress of the project, and what their goals are, in order to make the appropriate comprehensive analysis of the economic, social and environmental implications of this road while taking climate change into account.

The Opinion of the SPIA from Bocas – Jorge Pinto, the President of the Society of Engineers and Architects, Bocas del Toro Chapter, thinks this road project is unnecessary, and that beyond economic benefits, there will be a direct and considerable impact on the flora and fauna of the area once construction begins, which will only get worse once the road is opened. Which is why he thinks the road from Chiriqui to Bocas del Toro should be fully rehabilitated and not only at critical points. What’s more, he said, the potential implications of this expensive project have not been adequately considered.

Those absent – But those were not even consulted and only know of the plans to build this project through commentary on the radio are the Ngäbes Buglés. Rogelio Moreno, Chief General in rebellion, said the construction of this road would affect communities such as Kusapín, Kankintú, Río Chiriquí, Ensenada, Santa Catalina, and others that are home to thousands of his brethren. “We have not heard anything about it and we want them to consult with us if the government intends to undertake this project which will affect the region.” (la Prensa)

Editor’s Comment: This road would open up the entire Atlantic Northern coast to development, generating billions of dollars in new Foreign Direct Investment. This area is beautiful, and in reality the road should have been build generations ago. Hop in your car and drive to Miguel de la Borda sometime to see for yourself. And, imagine being able to drive to Bocas del Toro is about three hours or less from Panama City. Can anyone say “lobster for lunch” ?

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