Morelos Governor Graco Ramírez warned both federal Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza and President Enrique Peña Nieto that the Cuernavaca Paso Express wasn’t ready and asked them to postpone its opening.
In an interview on Milenio Televisión, Ramírez said he made it clear to both members of the executive that the highway wasn’t finished.
A father and son died after their car plunged into a sinkhole on the highway on July 12.
On the day of the highway’s inauguration, Ramírez was in Mexico City for a meeting and was informed that Peña Nieto would wait for him so they could arrive at the ceremony together.
“I arrived with the president an hour late and I raised my doubts that we had finished; I told him with complete frankness,” Ramírez said.
The governor also recalled that he told Ruiz Esparza in the presence of Peña Nieto that, “Unfortunately, there were many victims in the construction of this stretch here and, secondly, there are still some things missing.”
Since 2016, his government had warned the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) that a 40-year-old culvert needed to be replaced.
A day before the opening, Ramírez also said he warned an SCT official that the highway wasn’t ready.
“… [Infrastructure undersecretary] Óscar Callejo called to tell me that it was going to be opened and I said ‘Hey, Óscar, you can’t open it, it’s not finished,” Ramírez recalled.
The official responded that Easter holidays were approaching and that it was essential the road be ready.
In its haste to open the highway, the SCT failed to replace the culvert in question, Ramírez asserted.
At an appearance before the Senate yesterday, Ruiz Esparza said it was important that “there is not [just] one politician [held] responsible,” arguing that that those responsible for any errors or omissions should also face questioning rather than there be a single “political sacrifice.”
He added that it was not time to abandon ship.
Ruiz Esparza previously declared that the Morelos government, the municipality of Cuernavaca and the principal contractor were to blame for the July 12 sinkhole disaster.
Ramírez appeared before the same Senate commission today reiterating that his administration had informed the SCT of the problems and that Ruiz Esparza’s denial of the fact was a lie. He also stressed that Peña Nieto was aware of the situation.
He said the sinkhole tragedy was not an “unfortunate accident” and that “sooner or later, as we warned a year earlier, the drainage of that stretch of the highway wasn’t going to work.”