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The bridge under construction in Chiapas. The bridge under construction in Chiapas.

Aldesa’s highway jobs: delays and overruns

Highway contractor has a history of missing deadlines and exceeding budget

The company that built the Cuernavaca Paso Express — where a sinkhole opened on July 12, killing two people — has failed to meet deadlines on other infrastructure projects and exceeded its budget for one contract by more than a billion pesos.

Aldesa — a Spanish-based company that operates in Mexico under the name Aldesem — has won contracts for a range of infrastructure projects across 23 states.

One lucrative contract is for the construction of a 61-kilometer stretch of the Siglo XXI highway in Morelos that will link the Atlixco-Jantetelco highway to the Autopista del Sol. Aldesa is part of a consortium with Mexican companies Pinfa and GBM that is building the project.

However, the company has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines.

Work started in March 2014 with completion originally scheduled for March 2016 after which the company would have a 30-year concession to operate the road, federal Transportation Secretary Gerardo Luis Esparza said.

However, Aldesa chairman Alejandro Fernández subsequently revised the delivery date, saying that he anticipated it would open in May 2016. Work had only been completed on 23 of the 61.8 kilometers at the time.

However, that deadline was not met either. In December 2016 consortium director Mario Sugawara announced that the project would be finished in the middle of 2017 and in March then-Morelos transport secretary Jorge Messeguer said the highway would be ready “between July and August.”   Again, the company failed to meet the delivery dates set both by itself and government.

The project is also over budget by 1.1 billion pesos (US $61.5 million), having risen from 1.9 billion pesos to 3 billion. A similar budget blow-out occurred in the construction of the Cuernavaca Paso Express.

Aldesa is also behind schedule on a key infrastructure project in the state of Chiapas.

The company won a contract to build a cable-stayed bridge to connect the municipalities of Chicomuselo and La Concordia across La Angostura Dam, Mexico’s largest reservoir. The municipalities are currently only connected via boat.

According to an announcement by Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco Coello, Aldesa originally planned to finish the 610-million-peso (US $34-million), 348-meter bridge in November 2016.

However, the project is still only 70% complete and might even stretch into 2018 due to frequent work stoppages by 300 laborers who complain of low wages and lack of benefits.

Aldesa has also been criticized for construction flaws in tunnels and bridges on the Durango-Mazatlán highway, charging excessive tolls on the San Cristóbal de las Casas – Chiapa de Corzo highway, not making insurance payments for accidents and vehicle damage caused by potholes and failing to complete works it committed to on ejido lands in Morelos.

The company was also late and over-budget on the Paso Express. Its cost more than doubled, from 1.45 billion to 2.21 billion pesos.

One of its newest projects is the control tower at Mexico City’s new airport, for which it won the contract as part of a consortium.

The head of that project said Monday the contract could be cancelled if the investigation into the Paso Express sinkhole finds irregularities or irresponsibility on Aldesa’s part.

Opposition deputies in Congress demanded in July that the contract be cancelled.

Source: El Universal (sp), La Jornada (sp)

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