Some 860 companies in the province of Colón have closed since the Renovación Colón project began, according to the balance made by the Chamber of Commerce of Colón. Its president, José Ortega Hidalgo, also estimated in ‘several million’ the losses caused to the entrepreneurs of the Atlantic coast as a result of the work of the Urban Renovation project, which is being carried out by the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning (Miviot) and which executes the New Colón Consortium, integrated by the Brazilian Odebrecht and the Panamanian Constructora Urbana SA (Cusa).
The global project (Altos de Los Lagos and the Casco Antiguo of the city), according to the latest figures provided by the Miviot at the beginning of the month, recorded a 96.2% progress, while the renovation of the city center, which is charge of Cusa, has an 88.7% advance.
On the losses, Cusa informed that the economic support to the merchants was not considered in the original contract, ‘therefore, it is not the responsibility of the Consortium’. They also argue that after the work began, it was agreed that the Miviot would provide such support.
The business union, in an interview with La Estrella de Panamá, also criticized the delay in the process of certification and obtaining the code by businesses that have started affiliation to the system of Colón Puerto Libre. At the moment there are 19 affiliated businesses, according to Ortega. “The process, which should take less than two months, is taking up to seven months,” he complained.
The project, with an initial cost of $ 500 million, generated high expectations for the rescue of the Atlantic province, with a view to counteracting the unemployment rate – which is close to 9% – and the high levels of violence and crime with which its citizens live. daily.