President López Obrador has officially inaugurated construction of the Maya Train railroad, an ambitious infrastructure project that will link cities and towns in five southeastern states.
Accompanied by state and federal officials, López Obrador waved a starting flag on Monday for the construction of a section of track between Izamal, Yucatán, and Cancún, Quintana Roo.
At a ceremony in the Quintana Roo municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, the president described the US $8-billion, 1,500-kilometer railroad as a historic and momentous project for the southeast of Mexico.
“A lot of years went by and this region wasn’t looked after. We’re going to continue supporting the north [of the country] the Bajío, central Mexico, the south and the southeast,” López Obrador said.
He said that construction of the Maya Train will help the economy recover from the coronavirus-induced crisis, asserting that it will create 80,000 jobs this year and 150,000 in 2021.
López Obrador pledged that the project will be finished in 28 months, or by October 2022, stressing that no excuses will be accepted for delays.
He added that the companies building the railroad should follow the example of the military engineers building the new Mexico City airport at the Santa Lucía Air Force base.
The Mexican company ICA will build the section between Izamal and Cancún, while a consortium led by billionaire businessman Carlos Slim won the contract for the construction of a stretch between Escárcega and Calkiní in Campeche.
A consortium led by Portugal’s Mota-Engil and the China Communications Construction Company won the contract to build a section of track between Palenque, Chiapas, and Escárcega, Campeche.
López Obrador said that he was “certain” that ICA, which was awarded a 25-billion-peso contract without having to participate in a competitive bidding process, will meet all of its commitments in the construction of the 257-kilometer section of track between Izamal and Cancún.
The section will have three stops between the two terminuses – one in the Yucatán municipality of Kantunil, one near Chichén Itzá, the ancient Mayan city, and one at El Tinte Holbox.
For his part, Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquín described the Maya Train as much more than just an infrastructure project.
“In reality, it represents a new paradigm of economic integration, regional development and social equity,” he said.
Joaquín said that the train, which will run through the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas, will provide a boost to tourism in the region.
The director of the National Tourism Promotion Fund, which is managing the project, said that the Maya Train will help to lift more than one million people out of poverty.
Rogelio Jiménez Pons also said that the construction and operation of the railroad will not have a negative impact on the environment, although experts have warned that the project poses risks to the region’s underground water networks and the long-term survival of the jaguar and several indigenous groups have opposed it on the grounds that it will adversely affect biodiversity and natural resources, including water.
Source: Milenio (sp)