How Colombia’s 5G program plans to avoid environmental woes in Bogotá

Bnamericas Published: Friday, July 23, 2021
How Colombia’s 5G program plans to avoid environmental woes in Bogotá

Colombia’s infrastructure agency ANI is tightening its environmental regulations in order to prevent two projects in its 5G concessions program from negatively affecting the ecosystem of the Bogotá River, which was expressly stipulated in a 2014 court ruling.

The court ruling not only forces authorities to prevent future pollution in the river, but also obliges them to draft measures to decontaminate the waterway.

The two projects involved are the south section of the ALO expressway and the second phase of Bogotá’s northern access highway

In the case of the US$287mn ALO Sur PPP project, which received two bids, the 24.5km road includes two vehicular bridges over the river, while the US$334mn Accenorte II concession, which is currently being tendered, runs close to the Torca wetland and the Bogotá River.

ANI is working with both the city government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to update its construction rules to prevent further environmental deterioration and also plans “to go in and correct the problems” caused by previous infrastructure works, the head of the agency, Manuel Gutiérrez, said during a sustainable construction webinar held by magazine Semana. 

Gutiérrez pointed out that controls in previous construction projects were lax due to lack of resources, which led to negative consequences for both the environment and local communities. 

Giving the example of Bogotá’s northern access highway, originally built in the 1950s, he pointed out that the main focus then was to simply build a road with what was available, not to protect the environment.

As a result “we're going to invest billions of pesos to protect water sources,”  and “we won’t be just providing protection, but also improving the environmental conditions” in the area, Gutiérrez said.

The city government is currently tendering a US$1.5bn wastewater treatment plant (Canoas), which is part of its efforts to decontaminate the river following the 2014 ruling, while an expansion to the Salitre treatment plant, which is also part of the cleanup plan, is expected to be fully finished by this year.  

It should be noted that some projects in the 4G highways program – the predecessor to the 5G program – suffered delays related to environmental permits.

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