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Azuay’s New Undersecretary Faces Challenges in Addressing Road Problems

Published on April 18, 2023

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Dora Ordóñez, a former candidate for the Azuay Prefecture, recently assumed the role of Undersecretary of Transport and Public Works in the Austro region.

Azuay is facing some serious road problems, which have been affecting the economic sectors of tourism and industry in the region. The closures on the roads leading to Guayas and El Oro during the winter season have caused significant disruption. Additionally, the Alausí landslide has left the southern part of the country disconnected from the northern Sierra.

In response to the challenges posed by these road problems, more than 20 unions, universities, and social groups have formed a citizen assembly to demand concrete solutions from the government. They have announced a march against the government, which will be the second of its kind, to push for the authorities to address the pressing road issues.

The government’s response to the road crisis has been the appointment of Dora Ordóñez as the new Undersecretary of Transport and Public Works in the Austro. The appointment comes at a crucial time when the region is grappling with road problems that have led to reduced tourism and increased transportation costs.

Dora Ordóñez, who assumed office on April 13th, has expressed her willingness to take up the challenge of tackling the region’s road problems. She has said that she accepted the position because she is “convinced that it is necessary to influence from within.”

Big problems to fix

However, the task at hand is complex. Luis Mario Barsallo, the former Undersecretary of Transportation until recently, wrote a letter to Minister Darío Herrera outlining the internal problems that prevent the government from addressing the road problems. Barsallo cites a lack of resources and personnel, issues with the public contracting law, and the total centralization of processes as the key impediments to solving the problem.

One of the major challenges facing Ordóñez will be to manage resources for the roads of the Austro, which has been one of the most significant demands of the people of Cuenca. To address the issue, the new Undersecretary has promised to decentralize processes, with the aim of addressing some of the bottlenecks in the road sector.

On her first day in office, Ordóñez held a meeting with the citizen assembly, which is calling for the government to take urgent action to address the road problems in the region. She also met with the Austro highway committee and highlighted the need for the government to prioritize the rehabilitation of the Cuenca-Molleturo-El Empalme and Cuenca-Girón-Pasaje roads, which are currently in an emergency state.

The Minister of Transport and Public Works has promised to advance the studies needed to intervene on these roads as part of the emergency response. However, the citizen assembly is calling for more concrete solutions from the government.

Ordóñez has emphasized the need to keep machinery available on the roads 24/7 to address the challenges posed by winter weather. She has also promised to move forward with the rehabilitation of a section of the Panamericana Norte and the Medio Ejido-Sayausí road, both of which are up for bid.

In the long term, the Ministry of Transport is analyzing options to build a bypass in Alausí, where the road has been completely destroyed by the landslide.


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