Friday, December 1, 2023

AMLO promises Metro’s Line 12 will be operating ‘with complete safety’ within a year

The Mexico City Metro line, where 26 people died on May 3 when an overpass collapsed, will reopen within a year, President López Obrador said Thursday.

“I can now tell the people of Tláhuac and the people of Iztapalapa and Chalco, those who use [Line 12 of] this transport system, that it will be operating again with complete safety in a year from now at the latest,” he said at his regular news conference.

The president stressed that he was referring to the entire line, which runs underground for approximately half its length and in the open air on an elevated overpass for the other half.

Last month’s tragedy, which preliminary investigation results indicate was caused by construction flaws, occurred just nine years after Line 12 opened.

López Obrador said the entire line, which runs from Mixcoac in the capital’s southwest to Tláhuac in the southeast, will be thoroughly inspected before repair work commences. An inspection by the Mexican College of Civil Engineers already found that the entire elevated section of the line needs maintenance or repair.

Billionaire Carlos Slim leaves Mexico's National Palace
Carso, the company of billionaire Carlos Slim, right, seen leaving the National Palace Tuesday, built the part of Line 12 that collapsed. President López Obrador said Slim is willing to do needed repairs.

“A complete review will be done. It’s already being carried out, and I’m taking charge of it,” López Obrador said, explaining that Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum asked for his involvement.

“… I give my word that we’re going to resolve the problem; I’m talking about a … reconstruction of the project,” he said.

López Obrador ruled out any possibility that the military, which is building the new Mexico City airport and part of the Maya Train project, will participate in the repair work.

“… We’re going to have agreements with the companies [that built Line 12],” he said, adding that business tycoon Carlos Slim, whose company Carso Infrastructure and Construction was involved in the project, is a “responsible man” and socially conscious.

López Obrador said Wednesday that Slim was willing to repair the line, but it was unclear whether his company would absorb any of the cost. The president reiterated Thursday that he supports the investigations into the disaster and those responsible being punished.

The president didn’t visit the site of the May 3 tragedy and initially took a back seat in the political management of the disaster, which threatens to ensnare Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard — who was Mexico City’s mayor when Line 12 was built — and Sheinbaum, both of whom are considered leading contenders to succeed him. But López Obrador will now take sole responsibility for informing the public about the progress toward reopening the line, Sheinbaum said this week.

CDMX Metro Line 12 crash site
The Mexican College of Civil Engineers inspected most of the line and found that the entire elevated section needs maintenance or repair.

“There is an agreement that everything will be reported through the president,” the mayor said.

López Obrador said that he was happy to assume the responsibility because it will enable him to respond to media smear campaigns about the Metro disaster and its cause.

Sheinbaum evidently grew tired of relentless questioning on the issue, requesting last week that reporters stop asking her about it.

“I don’t want to keep talking about this Line 12 issue … because precisely what you want is confrontation, into which I’m not going to fall, for any reason,” she said on June 15, two days after The New York Times published an investigation that found serious flaws in the construction of the collapsed overpass.

Meanwhile, rumors are circulating that Metro director Florencia Serranía, who has disappeared from public view since the accident, will be shown the door. Asked about that possibility on Wednesday, Sheinbaum declined to confirm any speculations on the matter.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum at a June 16 press conference on plans for the Metro’s repairs. She will cede her role as information point person to the president, she said.

The May 3 crash, the worst disaster on the Metro in more than 50 years, is not the only fatal subway incident since Serranía became director in 2018. One person was killed and more than 40 were injured in a crash between two trains in March 2020, while a policewoman died in a fire in the Metro’s downtown substation in January 2021.

With reports from Reforma and El País 

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