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Concern in the tourist and industrial sector due to frequent problems on the Cuenca-Molleturo road

The Cuenca – Molleturo – El Empalme highway is the main connection point between Azuay and Guayas.

At the gates of a long holiday, in the tourist sector of Cuenca there is concern about the recurring problems that are registered in the Cuenca-Molleturo road and that force tourists to take alternatives that demand more time.

The Cuenca-Molleturo-El Empalme highway is the main connection point between Azuay and Guayas. For years, sections of the road have been affected by landslides or other accidents. The last problem was registered on Sunday, October 17, when a man died and three companions were injured after several rocks fell on the truck in which they were transported on that road.

In the tourist industry, there are still no certainty that the road will be available to travelers on the holiday. Juan Pablo Vanegas, president of the Hotel Association, calls for the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works to constantly stay in this sector, because, although there is another route to connect Azuay and Guayas (the Zhud-Cochancay-El Triunfo) the visitor he flees when obstacles or alternatives that take him more time to travel and difficulties are put on him.

This immediately affects the cancellation of reservations, drop in occupancy, decrease in use of services.

On August 30, the MTOP minister, Marcelo Cabrera, gave a press conference in which he announced that kilometer 49 of the Cuenca-Molleturo road was declared in emergency precisely because of the seriousness and danger that transit represents.

However, on Tuesday, October 19, it was publicly denied by Fausto Zaldúa, district director of the MTOP, who during a session of the cantonal COE said publicly that “kilometer 49 has never been declared in emergency, rather our request from the MTOP is that from this session the recommendation to make the declaration is out ”.

The following day, Cabrera issued a statement in which he refutes his subordinate by saying that the emergency is in force and that this Friday the 22nd the contract will be awarded to the public company Asfaltar for “the intervention and maintenance of six points of the road” and that the works start on the 27th. In this letter he also admits that “we have no resources” and that the studies for a final intervention will be “ready in a short time”.

Truck driver died after falling rocks on the Cuenca-Molleturo highway

In Cuenca they regret that the problems of this road have not been definitively solved, despite the fact that in recent years Cuenca have been directing the Ministry of Transportation. Between 1998 and 2021, eight Cuencanos have been designated as MTOP.

Every time a Government designates a Cuenca to lead the MTOP, the inhabitants have hope and expectation that once and for all the road problems of Azuay will end, since the routes that lead to El Oro, Guayas, Cañar and Loja are in terrible condition.

For the president of the Azuay Civil Engineers Association (CICA), Galo Delgado, this shows that having Cuenca residents in this position is not a guarantee of receiving adequate road care.

As a professional, he considers that the integral solution “is not difficult from the technical (engineering) side”, because with adequate studies and work it can be carried out, rather it ensures that the political decision is lacking. And particularly at kilometer 49 what you need is “economic injection”.

His technical recommendation is to start with the studies and then concrete decisions can be made, being the most feasible to build a variant of the axis of the road, make more retention berms (terrace on the slope), a dynamic barrier (meshes with anchors) and code the track axis. This, according to Delgado, if the Government puts effort and seriousness, could be executed in a couple of years.

Having a road in poor condition constitutes not only a danger, but also a limitation for economic development between an industrial and tourist city like Cuenca, and towards its neighbors. Due to this lack of attention, the executive director of the Chamber of Industries, Production and Employment of Cuenca, Andrés Robalino, is firm in saying that it is a shame that the third city in the country has not been served in this matter. That shame, he insists, must be for the governments in power because none has been concerned with the complex and constant situation during the twelve months of the year that keeps people in uncertainty every time it rains.

He believes that given this inaction of the authorities, the possibility of generating a concession or toll should be considered to keep it signposted and expedited, as occurs in other routes located in the north of the country. (I)

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