Peru to start post-flooding recovery 'immediately' - reconstruction chief

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Peru will start rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by record flooding this year without waiting for a final report on the damage, a senior government official said.

Rain-swollen rivers and landslides left 115 dead and 180,000 homeless, causing over US$3bn in damage to water and power plants, schools, hospitals, housing, bridges, railways and roads, according to the central bank. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has set a long-term price tag of US$9bn for the resettlement and reconstruction of communities.

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The government will start construction work on 1,100 damaged schools, 900 health posts and 65 bridges, said Pablo de la Flor, a former BCP executive who was appointed head of Peru's reconstruction effort last week.

The government has yet to finish a national reconstruction plan, but will get started without it, De la Flor said at a broadcast meeting between the cabinet and 25 regional presidents at the presidential palace in Lima. Infrastructure planning meetings with local officials in Piura and Cusco regions are scheduled over the next month, cabinet chief Fernando Zavala said at the same event.

The government will need to invest a total of 7.70bn soles (US$2.4bn) in national highways, provincial roads and bridges through 2020, transport and communications minister Martín Vizcarra told a congressional panel. The budget will include 2.93bn soles for highways, 1.06bn soles for roads and 3.71bn soles for bridges.

Flooding damaged 3,000km of roads, 600 bridges and the homes of more than 1mn Peruvians. Thousands of communities will have to be relocated away from areas prone to flooding, which has also sparked a dengue epidemic that has already claimed 16 lives in northern Piura region.

The Andean region was recovering from the effects of the La Niña phenomenon, where cooler ocean temperatures caused drought in the highlands. The delayed rain season has also caused widespread flooding in Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina this year.

AIRPORT

In other infrastructure news, Kuczynski said work is underway on the delayed US$1bn expansion of Lima's Jorge Chávez international airport, which will include a second passenger terminal and an additional runway.

"Peru is entering an era of change. We have a plan to improve the country's airport infrastructure," Kuczynski said at a broadcast ceremony marking the start of operations by budget airline Viva Air Perú. "This initiative by Viva Air comes at the right time."

Viva is a low-cost carrier founded by Ryanair parent company Irelandia that aims to carry 700,000 passengers a year on 11 domestic routes and compete with Chile's Latam, Colombia's Avianca and local carriers including Star Perú, Peruvian Airlines and LC Perú.