Mexico’s toll highways are costly, dangerous and in poor shape, according to the non-governmental organization National Citizens’ Observatory (ONC).
In an opinion piece published today in the newspaper El Universal, the ONC argues that the cost of traveling on the nation’s toll roads is exorbitant with charges as high as 3.61 pesos (almost US $0.20) per kilometer.
High tolls make transporting goods and getting to work, home or a tourist destination an excessively expensive exercise, the ONC charges.
It also says that the costs infringe on citizens’ right to travel freely through the country as provided for in article 11 of the Mexican constitution.
However, the ONC points out that nowhere does it mention that one’s personal financial situation may preclude them from exercising their right to freedom of movement and therefore concludes that the lucrative business of operating toll highways is unconstitutional.
To illustrate its three-part claim that highways are “costly, dangerous and in poor shape,” the ONC cites the Peñón-Texcoco highway in the northeast of the Mexico City metropolitan area as a prime example.
When the 16.5-kilometer highway opened in March 1993, the toll was seven pesos. Twenty-five years later, that cost has risen to 47 pesos or almost three pesos per kilometer.
Despite the price hike, the road hasn’t been adequately maintained, the ONC charges, adding that it has become too risky to travel on.
The organization attributes its current poor state to the hundreds of heavy vehicles that travel on the road on a daily basis to transport construction materials to the site of the new Mexico City International Airport. Accident rates have increased significantly, the ONC claims.
The organization also cites the numerous problems of the Cuernavaca Paso Express, of which the appearance of a sinkhole in July last year that trapped a car and killed both occupants is the most prominent and tragic.
The highway linking Mexico City to the capital of Morelos had opened just three months earlier.
The ONC is also critical of the company OHL, which operates the Circuito Exterior or Outer Loop Road in the state of México and recently raised tolls for the second time in just six months.
Yet paying high tolls in Mexico provides no guarantee that roads will be kept in a condition that leaves them safe to drive on and it is even less likely that any of the money motorists pay will be reinvested in projects that benefit Mexican families, the citizens’ group asserts.
“In general terms, the concessions granted to operate the main highways are nothing more than a multi-million-peso business that benefits the few but worries millions,” the op-ed concludes.
Source: El Universal (sp)