After a few bumps in the road, the Panama government has approved the contract and plans for the second phase of the Panama City metro. Design and construction are already moving forward, ensuring that the first metro system in Central America will continue to expand to meet the needs of the fast-growing capital.
Earlier this month, the Comptroller General of Panama formally endorsed the contract for construction of the second phase of the metro, which was seen as a key step. The agreement with a consortium led by Norberto Odebrecht and FCC Construcción sets a budget of $1.9 billion for construction.
The second section of the metro will cover 21 kilometers and include 16 stations, connecting several neighborhoods to downtown, including the December 24 district. The first line of the metro, which opened last spring to international attention, covered 13.7 kilometers and 12 stations.
There had been some concern that corruption investigations of Odebrecht might delay the deal. But the endorsement of the contract ensures that work is moving forward. The consortium reportedly agreed to post more than $500 million in performance bonds, according to media coverage.
The second phase is expected to take three years to complete and will certainly mean more snarled traffic in parts of Panama City, during construction. But the metro represents a substantial investment by the government to improve the city’s infrastructure. The cost may be high, but it is essential to build out the metro network, in order to receive the full benefits of the network.
Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.