Fonatur chief Jiménez. Fonatur chief Jiménez.

Coronavirus pandemic no barrier to Maya Train construction

Infrastructure projects will continue because of 'their strategic value'

The coronavirus pandemic will not stop President López Obrador’s signature infrastructure project.

Rogelio Jiménez Pons, head of the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), told reporters on Monday that the president ordered the continuation of the Maya Train railroad project during the worsening Covid-19 outbreak.

Speaking outside the National Palace after meeting with López Obrador, several cabinet ministers and the CEO of a company that will build part of the new railroad in the country’s southeast, Jiménez said that the president “wants all of us to be working” on the government’s infrastructure projects despite the suspension of nonessential activities announced on March 31 to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Fonatur is managing the US $6-$8 billion Maya Train project, which will link cities and towns in the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.

“The fundamental message is that the [infrastructure] projects have to be done because they are [of] strategic [value] to the country,” Jiménez said.

He said that the construction company ICA, whose CEO Guadalupe Phillips attended the National Palace meeting, has almost completed the basic engineering work for a section of track it will build between Izamal, Yucatán, and Cancún, Quintana Roo.

ICA will build a double-track railway on the southern side of the Kantunil-Cancún highway and add two new lanes to the road, Jiménez said. The twin projects will cost about 3 billion pesos (US $127.8 million) and start on May 29, he added.

The Fonatur chief said that he will meet again with López Obrador, Communications and Transportation Minister Javier Jiménez Espriú and other top officials in two weeks to discuss the progress of the 1,500-kilometer project.

A judge last month granted a definitive suspension order against its construction to a group of Maya and Ch’ol people in Campeche but it only applies to one community in the municipality of Calakmul. The Fonatur chief said that he wasn’t aware of any other legal action aimed at stopping the project.

In addition to announcing that Fonatur will continue to work on the Maya Train through the coronavirus pandemic, Jiménez revealed that a deputy director of the project, Javier Carrillo, tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago.

“He doesn’t have a fever anymore but he says the headaches are insane,” he said.

Although he had contact with the official before he became sick, Jimenez said that he hadn’t experienced any coronavirus symptoms and consequently hasn’t been tested.

“What I do do is go out with a mask,” he said, explaining that he wanted to avoid any possibility that he might infect others.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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