The Chinese companies building the Bogotá metro will not have the capacity to implement it: they denounce corruption and delays in other works

The Chinese companies building the Bogotá metro will not have the capacity to implement it: they denounce corruption and delays in other works
These are the questionable backgrounds of the Chinese companies responsible for building the first line of the Bogotá Metro – Credit Jesús Avilés/Infobae

With 35% progress reported at the end of 2023, according to the Bogota Mayor's Office, construction of the long-awaited first metro line in the Colombian capital continues on track, although not without concerns.

The consortium led by China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) continues to generate mistrust due to questions about performance Of Chinese companies consisting of in other parts of the world where it leads large-scale projects in Colombia.

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CHEC, an entity formed in 2012 after the merger of China Road and Bridge Corporation and China Harbor Engineering Company, emphasized during the selection process that it has significant global recognition in the field of infrastructure; However, Leland Lazarus, associate director for national security at the Jack D. Gordon School of Public Policy at Florida International University: Infobae told Colombia that some Chinese companies, including CHEC, are facing accusations of environmental damage, corruption and delays in project delivery in different parts of the world.

This is the track design of the first line of the Bogotá Metro – Credit Camila Diaz/Colprensa

Among these cases, what happened in Uganda and where stands out check He was initially appointed to lead the standard gauge railway (SGR) project that will connect Kampala to Malaba. After seven years without much progressUganda chose to replace this company, which supplies Beijing, with a Turkish company to carry out the work.

check He was also responsible for the construction of the new coastal city of Colombo in Sri Lanka at a cost of $1.4 billion. In 2020, this work was identified as a white elephant case in the country.

But there's something else: according to internal documents, check It would have acknowledged internally that it did not meet the security standards necessary to fully implement the project, as stipulated in the contracts. Indeed, the need for Colombian labor is minimal in the most important parts of the metro: a large number of workers come from China, a condition imposed by the regime company on the Bogotá authorities.

Douglas FarahThe international analyst and head of IBI Consultants told the media Dialogue of the Americas Countries such as Bolivia, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica have raised numerous criticisms including the use of low-quality materials, pollution in protected areas, lack of site maintenance, delays, unfair confiscations, use of bribes and other complaints.

“One common aspect of these complaints is the poor quality of CHEC’s work. This is because if a country does not have a high strategic level relative to China, they will not bother to do things in the best possible way,” Farah stated.

In reality, Bogotá Metro has already fined the Chinese consortium of CHEC and Xi'An Metro more than 800 million pesos. Mid-2023 For failure to adhere to deadlines for submitting initial studies and designsCommitments that should have been completed in December 2022.

The pile that will support the first metro line – the balance of the Bogotá Metro

Regarding corruption issues, CHEC, which owns an 85% stake in the Bogotá Metro Line 1 consortium, has been implicated in global scandals. “Last year, it was learned that CHEC was involved in a corruption case in Bolivia: it had offered bribes to local officials to win railway contracts.Lazarus explains.

Specifically in October 2022, it was confirmed that there were anomalies linked to the bribery case in the Bolivian Highway Directorate (ABC) for the authority to award road construction contracts with the Asian company. “China Harbor Engineering has confirmed the dismissal of its general manager in Bolivia, Jin ZhengyuanIt was stated in a statement published by the company, after conducting an internal audit, which verified non-compliance with duties and violation of the organization’s code of ethics.

check, a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Corporation (CCCC), has been implicated in global corruption cases and was sanctioned by the World Bank in 2009 for fraudulent bidding practices, especially in the first phase of China's National Highway Management and Improvement Project. Filipino.

In Colombia, the same company CHEC is involved in several projects, such as the 2 March Highway, which will be 254 kilometers long and seek to connect Medellín with Uraba Antioquia. “It is very likely that officials will resort to the same actions in Colombia that they did in Bolivia,” the expert says, adding that both monitoring entities and local and national governments “should be very attentive to possible cases of bribery.” Lazarus confirmed.

The 2 March Highway, linking Medellin to Uraba Antioquia, is also being built by China Chec – credit Ministry of Transport

About this, Colombia information I tried to consult with the consortium leading the construction process, in order to find out whether measures were being proposed for possible non-compliance or acts of corruption taking into account the company's history, but no response was received. While the Bogotá Metro Company monitors the contract concluded between the consortium and the state on a monthly basis through an audit.

“Some railway or highway projects do not have the right studies that analyze and diagnose the real impact they have on the environment,” Leland Lazarus said. This situation will not be limited to the company checkIn fact, there is Various indigenous groups are demanding and trying to sue Chinese companies.

In 2018, the UN High Commissioner reviewed the recommendations of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin (COICA) to assess the Chinese government’s respect for human rights. KOICA claimed that the right to life was violated, which includes protecting the right to a healthy and balanced environment.

Deforestation due to the construction of giant infrastructure projects remains a problem for the Amazon region – Credit José Jacome / EFE

The Monitoring Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), as cited by Mongabay LATAM, provided a satellite image-based analysis revealing how 1,307 hectares of land were deforested during the construction phase of access roads to the mine between 2009 and 2017. forest.

According to LazarusChina seeks to expand its strategic influence around the world, especially in Latin America, because it is a region rich in natural resources. “It is even known that some Chinese companies that sell electric cars are also involved in building the necessary infrastructure for cities.“The expert said.

The Colombian president and the leader of the Chinese regime met again and shook hands in San Francisco – Credit @infopresidencia/X

During his visit to China, Colombian President Gustavo Petro signed a series of agreementsWhich indicates strengthening diplomatic relations with China as a strategic partner. However, these setbacks are raising concern among citizens and experts, raising questions about Che's ability to meet expectations and deadlines for the Colombian capital's metro project.

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