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Medellín Metro News 93

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by November 21 2017 0

Medellin Mayor Federico Gutiérrez announced November 20 that the city’s enormously popular “Metro” public-transport network will add yet another zero-emissions aerial-tram “Metrocable” system -- helping to stem air pollution mainly caused by obsolete diesel and gasoline vehicles.

The 2.8-kilometers-long, COP$298 billion (US$99 million) “El Picacho” aerial tram is due to start construction in 2018 and then start-up in late 2019 or 2020. France-based Poma -- which has built Medellin's other aerial tram systems -- won the competitive bidding for the project.

While most of the residents that must abandon nearly 400 homes to make way for construction of the new "Picacho" route have agreed to move, the city still hasn’t gotten 100% approvals, which could delay completion.

The “Picacho” line would serve about 160,000 people living in the working-class Northwest neighborhoods of Castilla and Doce de Octubre.

That line will join Metro’s existing electric-powered Metro rail system, an expanding electric-powered “Tranvia” road-tram network, the “Encicla” zero-emissions bicycle system, and the low-emissions, natural-gas-fueled “Metroplus” bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. The “Metroplus” BRT system also could be converted to zero-emissions electric power over the coming decade following initial tests underway on Metro’s first electric-powered bus.

Medellin gets virtually all its electric power from zero-emissions hydroelectric dams, with Medellin-based power utility EPM expanding capacity with the 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydropower plant partially starting-up in late 2018.

Exito, EPM Expand EV Recharging

Meanwhile, Medellin-based multinational supermarket giant Exito announced November 21 that it’s opening the first two of a series of public electric vehicle (EV) recharging stations in Medellin – initially at the Éxito Poblado supermarket and at the “Viva” mall in the Laureles neighborhood.

While only a handful of EVs exist in Medellin to-date, local car manufacturer Renault (and its joint-venture partner Nissan) is one of the world’s leading makers of mass-market EVs -- mainly in Europe, so far. However, Renault has been boosting promotional sales of its “Twizy” mini-EV here in Medellin and could expand to more EV models in future.

“In the next few months, we will add two more [EV] charging stations at Éxito Envigado and Viva Palmas” in metro Medellin, added Claudia Echavarría Uribe, corporate affairs director at Grupo Éxito.

On the same day, EPM announced that it will have 20 EV recharging stations installed in metro Medellin by end-December 2017. That total includes the two new recharge stations involving Exito as well as a just-opened recharge station at the El Tesoro mall.

Additional EV recharge stations coming over the next month include Santafé mall, Unicentro mall, Los Molinos mall, Florida Parque Comercial, Mayorca mall (Sabaneta), Puerta del Norte (Bello); Viva Envigado, Plaza Mayor, Primer Parque de Laureles, Centro de Negocios Milla de Oro and Mall Río 10, according to EPM.

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by November 17 2017 0

Antioquia Governor Luis Perez announced November 15 the signing of a memo of understanding that would clear the way for starting construction in March 2018 of the US$600 million “Puerto Antioquia” ocean-freight port near Turbo.

Signing the memo were the Antioquia departmental government and its Instituto de Desarollo de Antioquia (IDEA) investment agency, France-based CMA Terminals, Colombia port operator/investor Pio SAS, banana export trade association Augura, the Sociedad Puerto Antioquia and the municipality of Turbo, Antioquia.

IDEA and the Antioquia department will put-up 5% of the funds for the project, due for start-up in second-half 2020, according to Governor Perez.

The new port not only would expand capacity for Colombia’s banana and coffee exports, but also will add new capacity for general containerized freight, bulk products and automobiles, at an estimated 6 million tonnes per year initial capacity.

At the signing ceremony, Colombia’s Transport Minister German Cardona Gutiérrez pointed-out that the national government’s COP$13 trillion (US$4.3 billion) current investment in “fourth generation” (4G) highways including the “Mar 1” and “Mar 2” highways and the “Toyo" tunnel -- linking Medellin to Atlantic ports (including the future Puerto Antioquia) -- are crucial to the economic future of Antioquia.

The deadline for financial close on the project is January 31, 2018, according to the governor.

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by November 09 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational utilities giant EPM announced November 9 that it has completed the buyout of 100% of the stock-and-assets of neighboring Rionegro’s “E.P. Rio” public utility, following which EPM aims to invest COP$550 billion (US$183 million) in water-and-sewage infrastructure in coming years.

Under the deal – finally approved by Rionegro’s municipal government on October 31 -- EPM would acquire an estimated 200,000 additional end-user clients, adding to its millions of clients in Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America.

Besides the municipality of Rionegro, E.P. Rio’s stockholders also included the departmental government of Antioquia, Catholic University of Oriente (Antioquia), Chamber of Commerce of Oriente Antioqueño, and the Corporación Empresarial del Oriente Antioqueño.

The fast-growing “oriente” (east of Medellin) region is now known as “Medellin’s second floor,” hosting the main international airport (Jose Maria Cordova, JMC) as well as growing industrialization along the Medellin-Bogota highway.

Commenting on the deal, Rionegro Mayor Andrés Julián Rendón Cardona added that “orderly development of our territory requires quality public services, which EPM has the capacity to offer, and with considerable future investments that our municipality doesn’t have the capacity to assume.

“From now through the end of 2019, EPM will be investing COP$315 billion [US$104 million], of which COP$225 billion [US$75 million] will go directly for capitalization of ‘E.P. Rio.’

“This will permit us to offer end-users of the water-supply system in the urban zone to enjoy quality water service, which is something we didn’t have. Besides, this consolidates a very important goal – that of cleaning-up the Rio Negro and its tributaries, so that we can convert our riverside to a place of meetings and recreation.”

EPM noted that according to projections by Colombia’s national planning agency (Departmento Nacional de Planeacion) the Medellin-Rionegro region by 2035 will become one of 10 of Colombia’s most important centers of economic development, requiring high-quality, robust utilities.

“This transaction will contribute to industrial, commercial and residential growth in Rionegro, through expanded and new infrastructure that will widen and improve public services, achieving the standards that already exist in the [Medellin] metro area and the Aburrá Valley,” according to EPM.

Between now and 2023, EPM will invest COP$140 billion (US$46 million) to complete a new aquaduct connecting the existing “La Fe” reservoir-lake in El Retiro to Rionegro, hence reducing Rionegro’s vulnerability to water shortages, according to EPM. The utility also will broaden coverage for sewer systems in the area.

Under the deal, EPM also will build a new sewage-treatment plant in Rionegro by 2021, aiming to slash contamination of Rio Negro, the river that eventually empties into the Guatape lake -- which feeds EPM's 560-megawatt hydroelectric plant near Guatape, Antioquia.

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by November 01 2017 0

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced October 31 that it is helping Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in El Bagre, Antioquia, to restore lands to safe and productive use following environmental destruction left by irresponsible miners.

In the COP$1.4 billion (US$470,000) USAID-sponsored project, 90 economically disadvantaged families – all members of the community councils of Puerto Claver and Los Mellizos, Antioquia – are planting Acacia mangium seedlings and native-tree seedlings in areas that had been wrecked by destructive mining.

The project aims to plant 327,745 trees -- 90% Acacia mangium and 10% native species -- according to USAID.

Each week, six groups of 30 people plant trees, providing “income opportunities to the greatest number of beneficiaries,” according to the agency.

In addition to planting, the families also support the tree-nursery operation and perform the hole-digging.

“The desert soils left by [irresponsible] mining in the village of Puerto Claver, municipality of El Bagre, Antioquia, will begin to grow again in the hands of families which for years lived on the little left by the informal exploiters,” according to USAID.

“These activities are part of the rehabilitation project of 295 hectares degraded by the informal mining in the corregimiento of Puerto Claver, which USAID supports through its ‘Oro Legal’ (legal gold) program, together with the mayor of the municipality of El Bagre and the Community Council of Puerto Claver (Afroclaver).

“Oro Legal will support the establishment of the plantations through the first maintenance [cycle], the fourth month of planting the seedlings, and the implementation of a beekeeping project, which will include the establishment of 200 hives.”

The “Afroclaver” community council, which ensures the protection of rights groups of the Afro-Colombian community, settled more than three decades ago in the township of Puerto Claver.

“This population did not have its own territory, until the mayor of El Bagre certified their possession,” according to USAID. Meanwhile, Colombia’s national land agency is working to finalize the community’s legal title to the lands.

To date, USAID’s “Oro Legal” program has supported soil-rehabilitation projects (in areas degraded by illegal mining) covering 1,989 hectares -- 1,141 in Bajo Cauca, Antioquia, and 848 hectares in the department of Chocó. The goal is to recover 11,500 hectares by 2020, according to the agency.

 

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by October 27 2017 0

Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agency Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced October 26 that expansions and upgrades to Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova (JMC) international airport will debut in December 2017.

The US$116 million project adds five more aircraft boarding tunnels, another 9,000 square meters of terminal space and additional independent power systems (IPS’s) that bring electric power to planes  parked at gates.

As a result, JMC will have 17 boarding slots with passenger tunnels, plus an additional 16 remote positions. The national-flights terminal area expands to 49,894 square meters (up 5,119 square meters) while the international-flights terminal area rises to 57,932 square meters (up 4,375 square meters).

In addition, five new electric escalators and elevators have been added. Passengers in transit from one flight to another now will be able to move through two new connection modules, both equipped with electric elevators and a fixed metal staircase.

Passengers also now will be able to board two electric elevators and electric escalators connecting terminal areas to the main parking lot adjacent to the terminals.

Last year, JMC served 7.56 million passengers and 81,846 flights.

Besides offering non-stop flights to Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, San Andrés, Barranquilla, Cúcuta, Santa Marta, Montería, Bucaramanga, Pereira and Leticia, JMC also offers non-stop flights to Lima, Mexico City, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Panama City, Madrid, San Salvador, Aruba and Valencia (Venezuela).

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by October 09 2017 0

A new report from the World Bank finds that Medellin is fourth-best among Colombia’s 32 departmental-capital cities in four key business categories: relative ease in starting a business, getting construction permits, registering properties and ease of paying taxes.

According to the Doing Business in Colombia report (see: http://www.doingbusiness.org/~/media/WBG/DoingBusiness/Documents/Subnational-Reports/DB17Sub-Colombia.pdf), Manizales took the top spot for ease of doing business, followed by Pereira, Bogota and Medellin.

“In general, the smaller the city, the greater the number of permits required, partly because regulatory reforms still haven’t reached all [Colombia] cities,” according to the report.

“Between 2013 and 2016, all cities except Ibagué and Santa Marta advanced toward meeting global best-practices standards, with Valledupar, Cúcuta, Leticia and Pereira making the most progress. Among those four cities, Valledupar was the city that made the most progress, realizing reforms in the three of the four categories.”

On a scale of 0 (worst) to 100 (best) for best-practices, Medellin scored 85.67 for opening a new business. However, Medellin came-in at only 68.26 for registering a property; 67.23 for getting construction permits; and 61.05 for ease of paying taxes (see chart, above).

Starting a Business

To analyze this factor, the report “registers all formalities required officially, or which are needed in practice, for an employer to be able to open and formally operate an industrial or commercial enterprise. In addition, the time and cost associated with completing the procedures and capital requirements are considered.”

Paying Taxes

To analyze this factor, the report “records the taxes and contributions that a medium-sized company must pay in its second year of activity. The number of payments, the method and the frequency of payment, the time associated with the preparation and filing of the tax returns and the total tax rate (proportion of taxes and contributions on the commercial benefit of the company) are considered. It also evaluates post-tax return processes such as tax refunds and audits.”

Property Registration

To analyze this factor, the report “records all the procedures required for a company to transfer title to a property to another purchasing company and [how] it can use the property to expand its business, [use it] as collateral for new loans or, if necessary, to sell it. The quality of the land management system is also evaluated.”

Obtaining Building Permits

For this factor, the report “records all the procedures, time and cost necessary for a company in the construction sector to complete the construction of a warehouse on the outskirts of the city.”

 

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by September 27 2017 0

Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced September 26 that two big investment banks based in Britain and Canada inked deals to help finance the “Pacifico 2” fourth generation (4G) highway project in Antioquia.

According to ANI, Britain-based ING Capital LLC and Canada-based CDPW Revenue Fixe (the Quebec provincial Pension Fund) are joining the list of investors in Pacifico 2.

Reacting to the announcement, Colombia’s Transport Minister Germán Cardona said that the foreign-investor decisions “show the enormous confidence that national and international banks have in financing these proejcts, and that the [project] concessionaires are doing things correctly.”

ANI president Dimitri Zaninovich added that the latest agreement “is going to permit, for the first time, the entry of institutional investors to finance big infrastructure projects. In this case we have the Quebec Pension Fund and ING from the United Kingdom that are investing more than COP$100 billion [US$34 million] in Pacífico 2.” 

Other financiers involved in Pacifico 2 include Banco de Crédito del Perú (US$50 million), Itaú Unibanco S.A. New York Branch (US$50 million) and Banco Santander S.A. (US$35 million), according to ANI

“In addition to these US$250 million investments, there is financing in Colombian pesos with the Banco de Bogotá and Banco Davivienda for COP$510 billion [US$173 million],” according to ANI.

The total project requires more than COP$1.3 trillion (US$442 million) investment, the agency added.

“Pacífico 2” includes 96.5 kilometers of roadway connecting Bolombolo southward alongside the Cauca River to La Pintada and also northward to the southern Medellin suburb of Primavera.

Of those 96.5 kilometers, 37 will be four-lane, divided highway; three kilometers will be two-lane divided highway, 2.5 kilometers of tunnels, 48 bridges and 54 kilometers of rehabilitated roadway.

“This project will improve transport for passengers and cargo from Medellin and Antioquia toward the Coffee Region and the southwest of the country,” according to ANI.

Project concessionaire La Pintada S.A.S. includes Grupo Odinsa (78.85%) and Construcciones El Cóndor (21.15%).

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by September 15 2017 0

Medellin-based highway concessionaire Devimar announced September 13 that it has obtained two vital environmental licenses that pave the way for construction of the “Autopista al Mar-1” divided highway linking Medellin westward toward current and future Atlantic ports.

The project also will include construction of a second tunnel parallel to the existing “Tunel del Occidente” (West Tunnel) on the western Medellin boundary.

“This milestone allows us to continue with the construction stage of the second road between the West Tunnel to San Jerónimo, and from San Jerónimo to Santa Fe de Antioquia,” according to Devimar.

“The commitments stipulated in the license include compliance with rehabilitation, reforestation and conservation activities. These interventions will seek to mitigate and compensate for possible environmental impacts.”

The new permits issued by Colombia’s national environmental licensing authority (ANLA) “are a great step forward for the development of the project,” according to Devimar.

“Our compensation plans are designed so that our intervention in the development of the project is positive, and in this way we can protect the animal and plant life that coexists with the Autopista al Mar-1 project,” said Devimar manager Jesus Rodriguez Robles.

Projects to be developed include ecological rehabilitation, reforestation of more than 800 hectares of natural forest, and secondary vegetation, according to the company.

“Likewise, in the matter of care and protection of water, we will act to conserve the Cauca River and the Cauca and Aurra river basins with priority in the sub-basins that have been identified as aqueduct suppliers,” according to the company.

The “Mar 1” project includes:

1. Improvement of the existing roadway and the construction of a second road in the Medellín section (Aburrá - Cauca road connection) and then onward to Santa Fe de Antioquia.
2. Construction of a second, parallel, 4.6-kilometers-long West Tunnel, “which will solve traffic problems at the entrance to Medellín.”
3. Rehabilitation of the existing road between Santa Fe de Antioquia and the village of Peñalisa (municipality of Salgar), including improvements to the Peñalisa bridge over the San Juan river.
4. Rehabilitation of 25 kilometers and operation and maintenance of the 62-kilometers-long road between Santa Fe de Antioquia and Cañasgordas.

The project will improve highway traffic movements between Medellín, Ebéjico, San Jerónimo, Sopetrán, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Buriticá, Giraldo, Cañasgordas, Anzá, Concordia, Betulia, Salgar and Venecia.

Published in Medellín Metro News Written by July 07 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational utilities giant EPM announced July 7 that its 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant project in Antioquia is now 70% complete – with an initial 300-megawatts (MW) of electric output scheduled to start at end-2018.

 The US$5.5 billion project – Colombia’s biggest-ever hydroelectric plant and its largest-single infrastructure project – is jointly owned by EPM and the departmental government of Antioquia.

Beyond the initial 300-MW generator, another seven turbine generators will be installed in stages between 2019 and 2021, when the plant reaches full capacity.

A 225-meters-high dam on the Rio Cauca is already 62% complete, while the underground area that houses the mechanical and transformer sections is now fully excavated, according to EPM.

“With EPM engineers and operatives, satisfactory progress has been made in the assembly of the hydromechanical and electromechanical equipment of what will be the new generation plant,” EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta said. “The construction of the main works is progressing in compliance with the schedule and with the commitment to deliver the first 300-MW to the country by the end of 2018.”

The Ituango hydroelectric project currently employs 11,247 – most from Antioquia, and only 24 foreigners, according to EPM.

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Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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