For several decades Panama City had a dream of having a modern mass transportation system. The city dwellers were of tired of the old Diablo Rojos which were never on time and falling apart. For the quarter they were paying for, the customers were not satisfied with the service provided.
Every five years presidential candidates would promise the replacement of the Diablos Rojos and a brand new subway. At the end of their administration, the Diablos Rojos were still terrorizing the street and the subway was nowhere to be seen. Another political promise broken.
This was the pattern for the last twenty years, until Ricardo Martinelli came up to bat. During his political campain he promised many things; amongst them the replacement of the Diablos Rojos with a modern fleet of urban buses and a first world subway. Many skeptical Panamanians said it was another dream that would not come true. This would never happen. Nobody had the willpower to replace the ubiquitous Diablos Rojos.
This time it was different. Martinelli is a man who will not take no for an answer. The Metro Bus is operating since late December of 2010 and every month, new routes are added to the project. This is not a political promise, it’s a dream come true. On February 14, 2011 (Valentine’s Day), the construction of the subway started at Plaza Cinco de Mayo. Another dream was in the process of becoming a reality. It’s expected to be inaugurated by early 2014.
In order to capture this historic event, I went to the construction site to take pictures of the initial construction works. I wanted to entrap this elusive dream that many citizens in this country refused to believe. Ver para creer (See to believe) they chanted.
Below are the historic pictures of this mega project which will place Panama amongst the most modern cities in Latin America. In less that two years, Martinelli has demonstrated he’s a person to be trusted. He has broken the doldrums of the past and dissipated the malaise that hovered over the country for decades. We are now before a bright future where Change (Cambio) is the battle cry. One thing is certain, our current president is no laggard. The proof is in the pudding.
The sign reads as follows:
- Project: Line 1 of the Subway
- Type of Project: Construction
- Developer: Ministry of the Presidency/Secretary of the Subway
- Length: 13.7 kilometers
The first phase of the subway will be built by Constructora Norberto Odebretch, S.A. and Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, S.A. for a total investment of $1.4 billion. The time frame for the project is 38 months. It will employ approximately 300 workers. It’s expected that the time elapsed from the moment you take the subway at Los Andes No. 2 to the Bus Terminal at Albrook will be just about 23 minutes.
The project closed a section of the street to remove electric cables and water pipes before they started excavating the tunnel for the subway. This would ensure there would be no interruptions in the power and water supply to the surrounding population.
The building in the background is a clinic owned and operated by the Panama Social Security. The construction activities did not stop the clinic from operating. It was business as usual with the clinic’s patients.
I’m appaled at all which has been achieved by Mr. Martinelli’s Administration in less than two years. He has three more years to go to change the country. I cross my fingers that he doesn’t lose his stamina nor his compass. Good Day.