SICT Must Spend Less on Highway MaintenanceBy Fernando Mares | Fri, 06/24/2022 - 16:24
The Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation (SICT) released its work program for 2022, where it has set the goal to maintain 82 percent of federal highways in good or acceptable conditions. Nevertheless, the ministry will need to reach this goal using fewer resources.
SICT considers highways to be “good or acceptable” if they do not have potholes or bumps and displays appropriate road signs. To maintain the highways, SICT has over US$790.8 million to spend, an amount 19 percent smaller than the US$977.2 million approved for 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic started. SICT reported that there is no available data on the road conditions for 2021.
It remains uncertain if SICT will be able to achieve this goal with its reduced budget, since inflation has severely impacted the prices for construction materials, according to the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC). This trend is expected to continue until at least 2023.
In addition, SICT plans to conduct studies to analyze and establish a natural disaster management system, as well as adapt to the design, construction, reconstruction, restoration and maintenance of road infrastructure to Mexico’s changing climate.
According to SICT, 90 percent of the federal highways must be in good or acceptable conditions by 2024 in order to meet international standards.
Road infrastructure is expected to receive important investment in the coming years. In an interview with BNAmericas, Jesús Verdugo, General Director for Roads, SICT, said that in order to carry out road infrastructure projects planned for 2023, the López Obrador administration will need an investment of over US$1.8 billion, of which US$900 million are expected to be used for maintenance works.
Mexico has around 400,000km of highways, according to the World Bank, of which 50,000km are managed by the federal government. More than 40,000km of these roads are toll-free. Since president López Obrador took office, most highway infrastructure projects have been developed under a public-private association scheme, and projects that did not require the direct participation of the government have been prioritized. According to Verdugo, most of the projects are carried out by the private sector using the government’s funding. The only exception is the infrastructure developed by the Mexican Navy (SEDENA), which the government has deemed a priority in terms of national security.