Wednesday, July 27, 2005

unshameless bastards

From the

More bad news for Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador, the popular mayor of Mexico City. On July 10th, auditors announced that about $30m was unaccounted for from funds to build an elevated highway (or “Second Floor”) above the city’s ring road. The audit of money spent in 2003 also found that many of the columns propping up the new road were not as strong as they should be. First proposed by Mr Lopéz Obrador in 2002 to help alleviate the city's traffic problems, the highway now boasts plenty of pillars with no road on top—it is anyone's guess just when it will be finished. This follows June’s inauspicious inauguration of the Metrobus, meant to improve transit on Insurgentes, the city’s main north-south thoroughfare, which has actually made traffic worse.

Money aside, the elevated highway has other problems. The finished sections are often clogged with traffic, and its inexplicably sharp turns and narrow shoulders make it remarkably unsafe, like a video game come to life. No one knows where the $30m went, though a common assumption is that contractors skimmed off the top. While apparently not personally corrupt, the mayor clearly has been unable to keep such abuses out of his administration. This all hurts Mr Lopéz Obrador, because he seems incapable of tackling the city's transport problem. Although he remains the frontrunner, this may harm his campaign for president in 2006.


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