Héctor Sánchez
View from the Top

Long-Term View Needed for Infrastructure to Take-Off

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 15:55

Q: Why is it important that municipalities coordinate the development of infrastructure?

A: Metropolitan coordination is a considerable challenge in Mexico because 60 percent of the population and economic hubs are concentrated in 59 metropolitan areas. There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to relationships between municipalities for the development of infrastructure. It is common for mayors to focus on short-term objectives that last as long as their term yet for infrastructure to truly take off, they must have medium and long-term visions. It is essential to create effective coordination mechanisms that have specific areas dedicated to planning, defining the strategic projects and linking them to a budget. Stronger institutional mechanisms will enable leaders to make the right decision when it comes to the development of water, mobility and social infrastructure.

Q: How would the creation of an independent entity to manage the country’s infrastructure development impact the industry?

A: When it comes to large federal projects, it is necessary that federal, state and municipal governments have a more effective decision-making processes and coordination. These projects require a strategic approach to create the maximum value for society. The Toluca-Mexico Interurban train requires collaboration between the Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT), the Metro System, the Toluca government and many others. Political parties must be willing to ensure that all players carry out their tasks correctly. Beyond that, the opportunities to develop larger economic value around the stations or to plan better transport integration are important aspects that take great effort and tend to be minimized under the pressure of the construction process.

Q: What challenges will arise from the construction of the Toluca-Mexico Interurban train?

A: The project requires a macro vision to provide the end user with accessibility, security, comfort and social benefits. There are three more specific challenges in this project. The first challenge is urban insertion and the creation of economic value along the train line. The second is to ensure good accessibility to the stations and integration with other transport modes. The third is the transformation of the Observatorio metro station into an intermodal terminal, which will receive people from the metro system and feed into the interurban train. The number of passengers and traffic will increase dramatically, creating a large construction challenge. The country would benefit greatly if it developed a homogenous vision for infrastructure development where infrastructure is uniform across Mexico.

Q: How will efficient communication facilitate the construction of NAICM?

A: NAICM is Mexico’s flagship project of the decade and it will require the collaboration of hundreds of players for the different phases of the project. All these players have different objectives and different requirements to meet them. It is important to have an interdisciplinary group that oversees these needs and ensures the objectives are being met. This group must also ensure the project has a positive economic and social impact on the surrounding communities and Mexico City overall. NAICM must take into consideration how it will increase accessibility from all fronts to the airport and must ensure there are means of public transportation to and from it.

Q: What does the government need to do to ensure sustainability in its developments?

A: First, the government must improve the guidelines for participating in bids. Mexico has increased its knowledge and its use of innovative materials. The country now has the right tools to create sustainable and ecological infrastructure yet the policies and regulatory framework for the use of sustainable technologies have not been clearly established. Policies should be determined to further encourage the private sector to use its expertise and begin creating solutions.