Casco Viejo, Panama, Casco Antiguo
Today, the government started to work on changing some of Casco`s sewage pipes and organizing electric cables and communication cables so that they are underground. The street will be fixed after this along with the sidewalks on those areas. The works will cover most of A Avenue and 9th street which is the main entrance to Las Bovedas, and then a piece near the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral Plaza. These four areas at a cost of $39 million dollars.
While the community in general agrees that most of this work is necessary, they are lobbying the government to include more areas and to repair also the drinking water system, as it has several areas with important filtrations. This work has not yet been seriously considered and could potentially cause to re open all the streets again. The community has also criticized the lack of coordination with the local businesses, especially those who live directly from tourism, as this is the peak of high season in Panama. They delivered the Office of Historic Patrimony a document with a down-to-earth and easy-to-apply program that will allow the businesses to continue working and even identified opportunities of promotion for the area.
Because of the traffic implications, the government finally decided to put in practice a recommendation given by the community more than two years ago: they have given instructions to all government workers to park outside Casco Viejo and will be brought in by a shuttle. This will continue during the year and a half the project is supposed to last. After meeting with the Office of Historic Patrimony, the community was clear that this should be a permanent measure. As many historic cities, parking should be for residents, commerce and tourism: the three pillars of the economy.
Here is a map marking the total extent of the work (in red) which will be carried out in 13 phases, through a year and a half. If done well, Casco Viejo and Panama will gain from it. If done wrong, an important opportunity will be missed.
In either case, we believe the private sector will keep on providing services and continuity. With more than twenty projects already under construction and a growing number of businesses, a sense of responsibility is on the raise. On our next blog, we`ll present a survey showing how the private sector has been growing in the past fourteen years.