MEDELLIN, Colombia – The northwestern Colombian province of Antioquia, whose industrious inhabitants forged a vibrant culture more than 200 years ago amid the Andes mountains, now is looking to boost its global competitiveness with an ambitious 40-trillion-peso ($13.2-billion) infrastructure program.
The 2016-2030 plan, to be financed with both public and private funds, will cost two and a half times as much as the recent expansion of the Panama Canal.
“There’s confidence in Antioquia, and that’s why investors are bringing in resources,” Antioquia Gov. Luis Perez Gutierrez told participants last week at a forum sponsored by the Colombian Chamber of Construction (Camacol) in Medellin, the provincial capital.
The program includes the construction of tunnels, viaducts and highways to improve mobility in 23 highland municipalities to the east of Medellin and a plan to expand and modernize the Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in Rionegro, a town in Eastern Antioquia.
Another target for transformation is Uraba, a rich agro-industrial region and the country’s largest banana-producing area.
Uraba’s progress was held back for decades by a civil war pitting leftist guerrillas against government forces, but its privileged geographical location near a gulf on Colombia’s northern coast (the Gulf of Uraba) and the border with Panama could make it a hub for international trade in a post-conflict stage.
A port system with three terminals is to be built there, the first of which (Pisisi) will be located 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of Medellin in the town of Turbo and be the only fully automated and multi-purpose terminal in Colombia.
The program also calls for construction of a second terminal in Turbo (Puerto Antioquia) and a third in the neighboring town of Necocli (Puerto Darien), which once completed will add to existing Caribbean port facilities in the Colombian cities of Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena.
In addition, the Oriente Tunnel, part of a 24-kilometer highway project linking the Aburra and San Nicolas valleys, will reduce travel times between Medellin and its international airport in Rionegro from 45 minutes to 18 minutes.