Ecuador municipal elections to set infrastructure trends

By
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Municipal elections to be held in Ecuador later this month will determine how hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on infrastructure projects over the next five years.

About 13mn Ecuadorans will vote for 11,000 local officials on March 24, including 23 provincial prefects and 221 mayors.

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The list of 18 candidates to head Quito municipality includes two-time former Quito mayor Paco Moncayo (2000-09) and former municipality officials María Corral and Luisa Maldonado. Two rival parties formed by brothers of President Lenín Moreno are also fielding candidates.

Infrastructure proposals for the capital city include a cable car (Luisa Maldonado), the expansion of the Trolebús and Ecovía BRT systems (Carlos Sevilla), a ring road and light railway system (Jorge Yunda), municipal hydroelectric plants (Paco Moncayo) and public-private associations for municipal companies (Edgar Jácome),

Other candidates propose municipal hospitals (Andrés Benavides), a municipal university (Juan Carlos Holguín), municipal housing (Paola Vintimilla), municipal markets (Olivio Sarzoza), a recycling industry (Xavier Buendía) and underground car parks (José Vásquez).

However, Quito mayor Mauricio Rodas, who is scheduled to step down in May, has slashed the municipality's payroll, streamlined municipal companies and cut annual current expenses by 15% since 2014 due to the lack of financing.

Quito, a highland city which has a population of 2.7mn, is struggling to move ahead with billions of dollars in transport infrastructure projects, including the Quito metro and the expansion of the Ecovía system.

METRO

Line 1 of the metro is 80% finished, with half of a planned 45.8km of track laid to date, according to Spain's Acciona. The 22.6km line will feature 15 stations and operate 18 trains with six cars each.

The first three trains, which can travel 100km/h, have begun trial runs between the El Labrador and Iñaquito stations at a speed of 40km/h, newspaper El Comercio reported. Another two trains are due to arrive at the end of the month, it said.

President Moreno, who secured a US$4.2bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month, has slashed public spending as growth slows and foreign debt payments rise. Moreno, who took office in May 2017, plans to cut the 2019 budget by a quarter to US$3.31bn as crude oil prices dwindle, since it funds around half of the national budget.

Ecuador is struggling to rebuild the country's northern coastal regions after an earthquake in April 2016 killed 673, left 30,000 homeless and caused US$3.4bn in damage. Flooding and landslides caused by the El Niño phenomenon also left 27 dead, damaged 30,000 homes and wiped out thousands of hectares of farmland in Ecuador in 2017.