MOBILITY IN CALI?

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 1 ene. 2012 4:54 por Carlos A. Gonzalez G.   [ actualizado el 5 feb. 2012 16:07 ]
Carlos A. González G.

'El Tiempo' Newspaper
Digital Edition, Opinion Section
Colombia, 8th October 2009


Opinion article

Original title: '¿Movilidad en Cali?'

It is well known that stories with a bad beginning normally do not have a different ending, and this is especially true in the case of the Urban Mobility Plan of Cali city. Even if this plan theoretically exists since last year, in practice nobody has seen a document that resembles it and much less so, does anybody know how it has benefited us.

Continuing with the sad tradition of the local administration of our city, the local government was incapable to enforce the article 2 of the Law 1083 of 2006, regarding the obligation to present an Urban Mobility Plan for the city at the latest on the 31st of July 2008. It was only when a group of citizens brought a lawsuit against the local administration taken up to the Administrative Litigious Court of Valle del Cauca, that the local government was forced to hurriedly carry out this procedure, in view of having one of their government employees ending up spending some days looking through the bars of the least desired “hotel” of the city, if they failed to execute the sentence.

The “Integral Mobility Plan of the Municipality of Cali” (adopted by means of the 0615 Municipal Decree of the 10th of November of 2008) deserves a place in the “Guinness World Records” book for having been developed in a period of time never seen before (only a couple of months) for a city with more than two million inhabitants. This, of course, does not speak in favour of the efficient management of the municipal offices in charge, but instead says a lot about their inability to carry it out.

The much awaited mobility plan for the city, turned out to be a brief document, resembling a decree, of forty two pages which, from the beginning to the end, merely lists objectives and strategies in a simple and sometimes incoherent way. This, which would not seem important for those who are not experts on this subject, is in fact very serious in the sense that this decree lacks a technical document of support (that is, the mobility plan as such) which should contain a broad section on the analyses of the present situation, followed by a rigorous diagnosis, in order to then end up with a series of detailed proposals that, the same as in all of the sections, would deal with the several components of urban mobility: pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and private transport. Even though, to be truthful, most of this irresponsibility falls on the previous local administration (2004-2007 period) which during one and a half years did not deign to draw up a single paragraph of the mobility plan; the present administration, which has been recognized as one of the best in the country, did not assume the challenge as it was needed, evidencing the hurry to comply with a mere administrative formality, instead of the will of satisfying the city on such an important subject as is mobility.

An Urban Mobility Plan has to be understood as the fundamental document to configure the sustainable mobility strategies of the municipality, in agreement with the determinations made in their Urban Planning. This document is not only limited to a strategic component, but it also has to set, with the greatest detail possible, the actions that have to be carried out and what is more, it should be subjected to the processes of the citizen’s participation in order to allow a social consensus. This is, we are talking about the “navigation card of the mobility of the city” for a fixed period of time, on which the government has to base its decisions regarding the new actions -not contained in this card- regarding mobility that are wished to be implemented.

If at present we had a real mobility plan, it would be relatively easy to answer key questions such as Which are truly the infrastructure projects that have priority for the mobility of the city? Or, Is it really necessary to build a toll motorway to cross the city from North to South? This is how projects which imply great investments, such as the “21 Megaconstructions” and the “Bicentenary Motorway” at present promoted by the local government, are not supported by a mobility plan as it is expected to be, but by other technical studies that have achieved the level of “urban legend” since, even though we all accept their existence, up to date no citizen has been able to see them and much less so, touch them.

Even if it is true that Cali city needs drastic measures to get the city out of the backwardness reached thanks to the disastrous previous administrations, and that for that the taxpayers will have to make an additional economic effort to support the present administration in their effort to relaunch the city; old practices such as improvisation and occultism regarding the projects related to mobility, have to be vigorously rejected because they are harmful for the needed regeneration of the confidence between the citizens and the local government.

This way and along with a serious planning and a strengthening of the effective citizen’s participation, it will be possible to build a new public management culture in the city of Cali. This culture could be inaugurated by sitting down and discussing a real mobility plan, that allows us to pass from the myth by decreeing plans that do not exist, to the reality by confronting the challenges of shaping the city’s future.

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This is a translation of the original version in Spanish entitled '¿Movilidad en Cali?'. The opinions expressed in this article are solely responsibility of the author and they do not compromise the point of view of any related institution.

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