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Ramírez, left, and Ruiz: blame game. Ramírez, left, and Ruiz: blame game.

Graco: transport chief to blame for sinkhole

Governor responds after secretary blames state, municipality and contractor

The transportation secretary declared this week that the Morelos state government, the municipality of Cuernavaca and the principal contractor were to blame for the July 12 sinkhole disaster on the Cuernavaca Paso Express.

But Morelos Governor Graco Ramírez has responded by laying the blame squarely on Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, accusing him of trying to shirk responsibility for the disaster.

The secretary also held Ramírez to blame for the deaths of a father and son killed after the vehicle they were traveling in plunged into the sinkhole.

Ramírez said in a press release that Ruiz Esparza “is the only one responsible” and accused him of creating a “smokescreen” to avoid assuming responsibility.

He asserted that the federal politician was evading responsibility by blaming everyone else including “rain and garbage” although on the day of the incident excessive rain was not recorded.

In a radio interview, Ramírez also said that since 2016 his administration as well as independent experts had warned the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) of the need to replace a culvert that was more than 40 years old.

“. . . they didn’t act because of the rush [they were in] and because they completed the work with construction companies of dubious reputation,” he claimed.

Engineering experts concluded that replacing the damaged culvert would have prevented the sinkhole from appearing.

It was in a report to the federal Senate that Ruiz Esparza assigned blame to the Morelos government, Cuernavaca municipal authorities and the Aldesa-Epccor consortium that built the highway.

Ruiz Esparza said Ramírez was responsible for the deaths of the two occupants of the trapped vehicle because when rescue personnel arrived at the scene they were still alive. But the bodies were not recovered until 10 hours after the incident by which time the sinkhole had filled with water, he said.

However, Ramírez defended the rescue effort and said that rescuers’ safety was a priority in the operation.

The SCT head also said that each element of the chain of command, public and private, must assume its respective responsibility.

“It’s worth noting that public and private actors who participated [in the works] have made unsubstantiated statements to evade responsibility so that the SCT assumes global responsibility in the matter.”

The blame game has intensified as Ruiz Esparza prepares to appear before the Senate on Tuesday. Ramírez said that while he has no obligation to attend he too will appear as he is determined to shed light on who really is to blame.

“I have every intention of going and making it clear to the senators and deputies of the Permanent Commission [of Congress] that the person responsible for the work, who decided the contract, who overpaid for it and showed it off in a video was Secretary Ruiz Esparza.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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