Transport workers to ratify support for controversial highway project

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bolivian transport workers will ratify their support for relaunching the project to build the Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos stretch of the Beni-Cochabamba highway project.

The ratification will take place during the second session of the Encuentro Plurinacional social integration conference to be held January 9-11, according to transport workers leader and legislator Javier Santiváñez of the pro-government socialist MAS party.

The transport workers are also in favor of modifying a law that declares the Isiboro Sécure indigenous and national park (Tipnis) an intangible national reserve, effectively barring the construction of the highway and any other roads that pass through the park.

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The law was approved in October after a large group of residents from Tipnis marched over 500km from the park to La Paz to protest against the highway project.

Meanwhile, an indigenous group from the Tipnis park has begun marching towards capital La Paz, also asking the government to relaunch the highway project. The group claims that the highway stretch will improve the quality of life of park residents, who in some settlements live in extreme poverty.

The highway project, worth some US$415mn, was to be financed by Brazilian development bank BNDES and built by Brazilian construction firm OAS.