Villaran maintains plans to tackle Lima’s traffic

Lima’s Mayor Susana Villaran said Wednesday that her administration will continue with plans to reorganize the city’s chaotic traffic despite a strike by some transportation companies.

Police arrested 18 people during the 24-hour strike Wednesday, in the eastern Ate and northern Los Olivos districts of the city, on charges of vandalism and threatening bus drivers and companies that did not join the strike.  Access from the outlying areas was slow early in the day, but most of the city transport was close to normal.

“This transport reform in the city will continue strong. There is no turning back,” Villaran said during an interview with Ideeleradio. “Today is the beginning of a new phase in public transportation.”

Villaran said the municipality will not review an ordinance that aims to clean up Lima’s transportation system by mandating the use of larger buses that use cleaner fuel. The plan, which is set to gradually change all buses to Euro4  diesel engines and be fully in use by January 2013, includes the elimination of old vehicles and the small “combi” vans, and the incorporation of new vehicles –the largest bus will be able to transport 240 people.

A s/. 25 million  trust fund ($9 mn) has been set up by the municipal government to assist bus owners to sell their old vehicles as scrap and receive funding to finance the purchase of the new standard buses.  The trust fund will be open to companies “that respect the users, that have a plan to integrate the bus owners as shareholders, and that are willing to put their workers gradually on the payroll.”

“This congestion, chaos and pollution is going to end in Lima. That’s why I was elected, that’s what I am commited to and I’m going to work on it,” said Villaran.

Some bus companies have protested the ordinance, saying that the proposals are not feasible. The president of the Urban Transportation Society (STU), Ricardo Pareja, who called for the strike, said companies will have to increase bus fares if they are expected to renew their fleets.  Pareja expected 25,000 of Lima’s 30,000 buses to join the strike, but the number was far fewer. 

The STU organized the 24 hour strike on Wednesday. The strike caused some difficulties on Lima’s roads but no major incidents, Villaran said. She blamed the strike on “bad business people who have been accustomed to making deals under the table” with the previous administration.

The STU has said it plans to hold a 48-hour strike on August 11 and 12

“There were two small incidents that almost turned violent at Jicamarca, another at the entrance of Huaycan, and the rest of the [traffic] flow has been normal,” Villaran said. “Of course there was a small strike, but the city is running and it is quiet and in order.”

In a press conference accompanied by bus owners who were against the strike, Villaran said citizens deserved a safer and better organized transport system and that the city also needed to reduce air pollution.  “Three children die in Lima every day from bronchopulmonary diseases caused by air pollution,” Villaran said, adding that two-thirds of Lima’s air pollution is caused by old, inefficient vehicles and poor fuel standards.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *