5 Infrastructure Projects You Might Not Know About

Written by Jerin Tate

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

With all of it's recent growth, Panama has seen the need for some major infrastructure projects. While most people are familiar with the larger projects such as the Costa Cintera and the expansion of the Panama Canal, there are actually quite a few smaller projects which aim to make life in Panama better. Here are 5 infrastructure projects you might not know about:

Cleanup of Panama Bay

The extremely polluted Bay of Panama is getting a major cleanup thanks to a $360 million cleanup that is under way right now and scheduled to be finished in 2011. Some 47 kilometers of sewage lines will be built to collect the 280,000 cubic meters of sewage that Panama City produces every day. This will be sent into new treatment plants that will purify it before sending it into the bay. The project will provide a modern sewage system for an estimated 1.2 million Panama City residents.

911 System

Panama will be the first country in Latin America to have a 911 emergency call system, thanks to a $70 million project that will be ready in early 2009. $66 million will be provided by the State and $2.5 million by the Club Activo 20-30, in the form of 23 ambulances. Another $1.8 million will come from a 1 percent monthly tax on telecommunications services. In the first phase of the system, only the city of Panama will be covered. Afterward, coverage will be extended to Colón and then to the rest of the country.

Panama Prison Renovations

Next month, Panama officials will open a new 320 bed addition to the La Joya prison. It is expected to help the system deal with its severe overcrowding problem, which has prompted criticism from numerous human rights organizations. In addition to the expansion projects, officials are also seeking a major overhaul of all the country’s prisons. This project, which would cost millions of dollars, seeks to replace the current prisons, which are converted military barracks, with modern facilities. Prison officials say the overhaul would address many of the problems the system now faces, including overcrowding and frequent escapes.

Renovations to Estadio Nacional Rommel Fernández

The renovation of the national stadium of soccer in Panama, Rommel Fernández, will cost $19.71 million, and is slated to be finished next year. The project will almost double its capacity to 40,000 with 126 new boxes, areas for shopping, 15,000 new seats, 4 dressing rooms, training areas and a new lighting system. The project forms part of the sports complex, that includes the restructuring of the Gymnasium Roberto Durán; and that will include a center of sports training, sports medicine and physical preparation.

Highway from Panama City to Colon

Already about 60% complete, the $215 million 4 lane freeway between Panama City and Colon will cut the transcontinental drive down to about 30 minutes. Scheduled for completion in April of 2009, the road will give motorists the the chance to skip the congestion on a dangerous two lane road that currently makes the trip up to 2 hours or more. The toll for using the road is expected to be $2.40 for cars. A toll for larger vehicles has not been established.