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Peru: Iquitos Against the Chaos Caused by Sewage Works

The beautiful and warm city of Iquitos, in the Loreto region, is going through several problems; the most worrying and annoying for the inhabitants is the chaos caused by controversial sewage works. There is not only [es] traffic chaos, lack of water and noise pollution from the heavy machines, but also dust and piles of dirt invading roads and homes everywhere.

YouTube user posted a video [es] which he says is, “a sarcastic view of the reality of the city of Iquitos and the profit of our local government representatives, allied with a Chinese company … Loreto Apocalypse!”:

In June 2010, the Regional Government of Loreto signed [es] a contract with China International Water & Electric Corp. – Peru, in order to accomplish the construction work of the full sewerage system of Iquitos, an investment of about 500 million Peruvian Nuevo Soles (approximately 190 million US dollars). This contract was questioned [es] almost immediately for reasons [es] such as overvaluation, technical and range failures, financing and others.

Although company representatives exposed [es] the technical qualities and benefits of the project, the civil society of Iquitos was not convinced. Soon came some problems [es] with the construction sector and others [es] with the administration and supervision of the work. However, the real problems for the population started when the Chinese company subcontractors stopped [es] working because of many irregularities in the execution of the works, and also because of the many abuses committed against these contractors, as they declared. This caused the work to stop for several days, affecting traffic as well as the public and private ornament of the city.

Soon things got worst with people who live near [es] the Terminal zone threatening to take the company’s machines, demanding the streets were repaired; residents of Távara street [es] along with Lieutenant Pinglo forming a committee in order to protest; accusations [es] of responsibility for the waterlogging that happens with surges of heavy rain; meetings and strikes [es] in protest against the broken and not properly closed streets; mototaxi drivers asking [es] the Chinese company to get the roads in good condition; residents [es] of San Antonio street demanding the company’s compliance with the percentage of jobs promised; and more complaints [es] from the residents of Nauta, Pevas Condamine Loreto and Raimondi streets, etc.

With such a background, the Amazon Collective [es] has decided to issue a civic statement directed to the Regional Government and Provincial Municipality of Maynas, requiring the compliance of several agreements.

1. Que se planifiquen las obras a fin de evitar que sectores enteros de la ciudad queden bloqueados al tránsito.
2. Que se coordine y acuerden los plazos de ejecución de las obras con los moradores de las calles a ser intervenidas.
3. Que se exija calidad de los trabajos, rellenándose las zanjas con material adecuado y no con el mismo que ha sido excavado a fin de evitar hundimientos.
4. Que se diseñe un plan de emergencia para reparación de las zanjas mal repavimentadas y hundidas.
5. Que se proceda de inmediato al retiro del desmonte abandonado en las calles y a su limpieza total.
6. Que se revise la labor que está cumpliendo la empresa contratada para realizar la supervisión de la empresa que ejecuta las obras de alcantarillado.
7. Que las autoridades municipales y regionales, en coordinación con la ciudadanía, elabore un plan integral para superar el caos generalizado de la ciudad y devolverle la belleza y tranquilidad de la que gozó en un tiempo.
1. The planning of the works in order to avoid blocking whole sectors of the city with traffic.
2. The coordination and scheduling of the execution of works, with the residents of the streets to be repaired.
3. Quality in the works, such as filling the trenches with suitable material and not the same that has been excavated to avoid subsidence.
4. Designing of an emergency plan to repair sunken trenches and not properly resurfaced.
5. The immediate proceeding of the removal of the leftover of work and a total cleaning.
6. The review of the work of the company hired to supervise the company that executes the sewage work.
7. The development of a full plan, coordinating the public with the municipal and regional authorities, in order to overcome the general chaos of the city and restore its beauty and tranquility.

This statement can be fully read [es] in the blog En la Calle by Fernando Montalván Tuesta; also in the blog A viva voz, José Manuyama includes a list [es] of supporters. Another blogger, Ramiro Celis, writes [es] about these works, considering it “a case of political corruption” and also adding that “despite the complaints from the residents and the community, no authority says: ENOUGH!”

Es lamentable que una ciudad que se promociona como “turística” no tenga pistas adecuadas para el tránsito vehicular y menos autoridades preocupadas por el tema. Desde que los chinos llegaron a Iquitos luego de ganar un concurso público manoseado, se afincaron en un lujoso hotel, compraron (o alquilaron) camionetas 4 x 4 y contrataron al personal necesario para romper inmisericordemente las pistas con el aval de una autoridad regional preocupada más por su cargo en la Federación Peruana de Fútbol que en el Gobierno Regional de Loreto.

It’s deplorable that a city that promotes itself as “t0uristic” has no roads suitable for traffic and no authorities concerned about the issue. Since the Chinese came to Iquitos, after their winning of a manipulated public bid, they settled in a luxurious hotel, bought (or rented) 4×4 trucks and hired the necessary staff to mercilessly break the roads with the support of a regional authority, more concerned about his position in Peruvian Football Federation than in the Regional Government of Loreto.

More than a year ago, Yosef’s blog republished [es] an article by Fernando Nájar, which exposed several dubious aspects of the financial part of the contract for the sewage works:

El Presidente de la Región Loreto, sin consultar a nadie, arbitrariamente y subestimando a todos los loretanos, implicó hasta el 2023 los fondos de 51 municipalidades loretanas, de la Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana y del Instituto de Investigación de la Amazonía Peruana ¿Qué tiene que ver la UNAP y el IIAP en obras de canalización que competen a las municipalidades en cualquier parte del mundo. ¿Por qué los flacos fondos de las provincias y distritos del interior de la Región tienen que financiaruna obra que solo beneficiará a Iquitos y en parte a los distritos de San Juan, Belén y Punchana.

Loreto’s Regional President, without consulting anyone, arbitrarily and underestimating all inhabitants of Loreto, involved until 2023 funds from 51 Loreto municipalities and from the National University and Research Institute of Peruvian Amazon. What do the UNAP and IIAP have to do with the pipeline’s works, which is a responsibility of the municipalities anywhere in the world? Why are the few funds of the interior provinces and districts of the region have to finance a work that only benefits Iquitos and three districts (San Juan, Belén and Punchana)?

As anthropologist Albert Chirif poses [es]: “At this point, discussions about the sewage are no longer fitting. The company must respect the citizens and we must demand that from the authorities.” Working in this direction, The Amazon Collective [es] is promoting its Civic Statement and this Saturday, November 12, a meeting was scheduled to give information and get signatures in support of the cause. There’s also a group on Facebook: “Let’s talk about Iquitos sewerage. Your opinion. Is everything.”[es]

This post was first published in Globalizado [es], Juan Arellano's personal blog on November 10, 2011.

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