13 June 2007


Public works galore! I hope this isn't just pre-electoral advertising cum wishful thinking. Not only is a national route to be built between Santo Tomé (near Santa Fe City) and San Francisco, in the border of Córdoba Province, but also the national government is going to pay 300 million pesos to widen our own Avenida Circunvalación by one lane.

Circunvalación means "going around", more as in "doing a detour around". Its a mostly raised two-lane avenue that starts in the south of the city (bordering Villa Gobernador Gálvez) and does a less-than-semicircular sector around most of the urbanized area of Rosario (first west, then north, then east). It ends up there joining the roads that go to the northern metropolitan area and also sends an arm over the river, in the form of the Rosario-Victoria Bridge. It was planned to be (and used to be) like Avenida General Paz in Buenos Aires, but it was inside the municipal jurisdiction. Some neighbourhoods (like Fisherton) were outside from the outset; others spilled out.

Circunvalación must also be a textbook example of a jurisdictional conflict. It's 29 km of road that nobody likes to maintain, with 40,000 vehicles per day. Since it's peripheric and most of it inside poor, dangerous neighbourhoods, there's no popular pressure (from "important" people) to keep it safe. Being formally part of a national road, it should get maintenance (at least filling the potholes) from the national state, or more specifically, the Dirección Nacional de Vialidad (don't ask what vialidad means; it has to do with vías — a fancy way of saying "roads"). The lights and lampposts are vandalized or stolen all the time, but in this case (and by the same regulations) it's the municipal government that has to replace them. The municipality doesn't pay attention to it, in part because it has no money or human resources to change dozens of high-yield lamps a month, least of all guard them so they're not broken or stolen again. And finally, guess who's really in charge of keeping the vandals away? The Santa Fe provincial police. Yes — the ones whence the "fat cop" stereotype came from.

Trying to get these three states to work together and in coordination is like having a cat asking a wolf to cooperate with an elephant to hunt an eagle. They're all very busy and they don't like each other. We the people, in case you were wondering, are the fleas... We mean a lot to the cat, less so to the wolf, and almost nothing to the elephant. Let us hope we can still get the elephant a bit itchy.

1 comment:

  1. Pablo –

    Do you think that the construction projects are really a form of vote buying? Or maybe somebody’s construction company might benefit. Do you think Skanska might bid …? ;-)

    I checked. Penguins also are also afflicted with fleas. Who would have guessed?



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