Billions wasted: Mexico mega-airport axed by controversial vote
Mexico will not have its new super-hub in Texcoco after all. The decision was taken after a controversial public consultation, which stopped the airport project mid-construction.
The decision was announced by the newly elected president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on October 29, 2018.
70% of the people that voted in the consultation of October 27, 2018, rejected the construction of a mega-airport that was to be built in Texcoco, 30 km away from Mexico City. Throughout his campaign, Lopez Obrador criticized the project for its price ($13 billion dollars), its environmental impact and alleged corruption in the attribution of the contracts.
Instead, voters agreed to an alternative project in which the Santa Lucía Air Force Base (NLU) would see two runways being built for commercial operations. The current Mexico City International Airport (MEX) and Toluca International Airport (TLC) would also be expanded.
But the legality of this consultation is being questioned. Critics point at the fact that it was not organized by the national electoral authorities. About a thousand voting offices were opened, compared to more than 156.000 for the presidential elections in July 2018. Their location privileged poorer areas where people voted the most for Lopez Obrador. Several media, including the Agence France Presse, also reported people voting multiple times.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) supported the project, along with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The latter voiced its disappointment following the results from the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Panama City, Panama.
Extremely disappointing that gov’t of #Mexico will abandon building its new airport #NAICM. The impact of this bad decision will be felt in jobs & economic growth. #ALTAforum https://t.co/jl3IrxNBGZ pic.twitter.com/ePgFAhWQaw— IATA (@IATA) October 29, 2018
Despite the cancellation, the work on the construction site will continue until November 30, 2018, in accordance with the contracts signed by the project manager, Grupo Aeroportuario de Mexico City (GACM). In total, Federico Patiño , general director of GACM reported by a21.com, estimates that with the money already invested in materials and the fulfilling of the contracts, the aborted project will cost 40 and 45 billion pesos ($1.7 to $2.2 billion) to the government. That estimation does not include the price of the rehabilitation of the construction site.
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