11 April 2007

What the governor giveth

John asks how the approximately US$10 million assigned to Rosario by the provincial government for the emergency will be spent. Coincidentally, La Capital publishes an article today about that (and so does Rosario/12 as well).

It's calculated that 65% of the city's streets are in bad shape and need total or partial repaving — this wasn't caused by the storm exclusively, but the days and days of rain finished off many streets that were damaged by years of lack of maintenance. This work will take 15 to 20 million pesos.

The ravine of the Paraná River was eroded and collapsed in several spots, notably in the north end of the coast (the place called Costa Alta, where there's an open-air elevator) and in the parks located in the center-north coast (Parque Sunchales and Parque de las Colectividades). The ravine must be reinforced and walls must be built. That will take 2 to 3 million pesos.

There are many neighbourhoods were water is drained by open ditches. These can be more or less sanitary, but not in cases where the street and the sidewalk are not paved as they should. About 3 million pesos will be spent on fixing those ditches, so they don't clog or overflow.

The shanty towns (villas miseria) scattered in the periphery of the city get flooded very quick because they're built along irregularly traced unpaved streets and passages. Whenever it rains, those passages turn into muddy trenches. The city has been working for years building proper streets, with curbs, signs, lighting, etc., so as to "open up" the villas, as a quality of life issue and for security. The municipality will now intervene in 30 irregular settlements, using 4 million pesos.

Another 3 million pesos will be employed to repair the power grid and street lights and to handle waste. And finally, a yet-undetermined amount will be used to aid poor residents whose homes were damaged by the storm.

This is a good opportunity for the city to renew itself and for the government to implement and complete certain projects in a short time, instead of putting them off indefinitely as ideas for the coming generations. It's inconceivable, even in our country, that a prosperous city with a progressive government still leaves thousands of people without basic infrastructure and protection against weather phenomena that are (unfortunately) becoming more frequent in our region. And in a province that is swimming in cash!

I really have to credit governor Obeid — even if I've criticized his government countless times, the man knows how to deal with a crisis personally. The problem with him is the corrupt, inefficient, anti-meritocratic, nepotist structure imposed on his administration by a quarter of a century of Peronist rule, which he willingly defers to 99% of the times (the only exception I can remember was the repeal of the Ley de Lemas, which will almost certainly cause the defeat of the Peronist party next September). Outside of the restrictions of party politics, the man has collaborated with Rosario — as he did in his previous term (1995–1999) when Hermes Binner was the mayor, and until Binner started campaigning for the governor's office... This immense grant of funds will undoubtedly be beneficial to the Peronist campaign, but only tangentially, as Obeid has more or less tried to remain above it, and he's not running for reelection (he can't).

Will all the promises become reality?

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