Temas Especiales

20 de Jan de 2021

Nacional

Paying for damage to the city roads

At a recent meeting of the Panama Municipal Council, one representative of the people suggested that construction companies take respons...

At a recent meeting of the Panama Municipal Council, one representative of the people suggested that construction companies take responsibility for damage causes to the streets, including deliveries of materials, cement mixers, and the carting away of debris.

It’s a wish that likely will never be fulfilled, as developers in general seem immune to the needs of providing adequate infrastructures before they push skywards, and the condition of roads, some far from the sites on which they are building, are far from their minds.

This is not the case in other jurisdictions, where municipalities and governments use a number of ways to recoup damage to their streets, including special tax and licensing provision. Don’t hold your breath awaiting similar steps in Panama.

HIDDEN COSTS Which brings me again to the Cinta Costera waterfront development. When the $189 million project was first announced, was the cost of fixing roads damaged by the trucks that lumber by with thousands of tons of landfill around the clock considered?

Or maybe that’s another expense that the government plans to foist on the nearby residents, who are being asked to pay for the coastal strip, allegedly raising the value of their property.

There are two strikes against that rational, one is, the end of the high end construction boom, which could lead to falling land values, the other is the belief among many residents in the area, that the vaunted green space development is nothing more than a widening of Avenida Balboa, in the hopes of ending some of the traffic snarls. Skeptics believe that, as in many northern American cities (try Las Angeles or Toronto) the building of “expressways”, creates jams. In Toronto for example, one of the earlier attempts at speeding the flow of traffic was called “The Don Valley Parkway”. It quickly got renamed by users and traffic reporters as the “Don Valley Parking lot”.

However, Panama’s city fathers (and mothers) have already solved that problem. Some percent of the green space will be devoted to roads and 2000 parking spaces.

A great place to take the kids for a tailgate party.

A STROLL THROUGH THE PARK. Walking is not high on the list of priorities with many citizens, and fears over security may have dampened the enthusiasm of those who believe their legs have other uses than props on a sofa to watch the latest group of TV talking heads. But when you do decide to stretch the legs, you see many things that you would miss as you drive by in air conditioned comfort.

The other day as I strolled by Parque Urraca I witnessed a giant SUV parking on a corner blocking not only the street, but access to a fire hydrant. The only unusual thing about this scenario was that the driver thanked the ATTT employee who stood by without saying a word. The wicked word coima crossed by mind.

A few yards further on there was a brighter picture. A group of youngsters playing basketball in the park.

Judging by their clothing and footwear they were not from the neighboring luxury towers.

A standout among the players was a young man in his twenties encouraging both teams. Whenever the ball landed in his hands, he avoided shooting and passed it to another player. I didn’t see anyone make the hoop, but I did see a lot of happy, involved kids.

SMOKE GETS IN Y0UR EYES, Around the corner the lottery sellers at Riba Smith choked as truck from a construction site belched carbon into the air.