EPM announced the search for new contractors to replace the current ones, in case they are unable or unwilling to continue the project. This news increased concerns about this important project.
The company told El Tiempo that the time to hire new suppliers or contractors will depend on the strategy adopted and the circumstances under which it is done.
“It is good to clarify that within the contractual rules there is the possibility of making processes more agile and expeditious than those of a tender,” EPM said.
A representative of the sector warned that the change of contractor is the least of the problems, since what is really complex and hard is what will come next. He explained that after taking over the pending works, the contractor or consortium that arrives will have to go through a process of at least one year to reach the current pace of work.
“It is not like changing a light bulb and starting up. That takes time,” he said.
The Colombian Chamber of Infrastructure (CCI) said that if a process is reopened in search of new companies, this will lead to a “colossal setback”, since in such a large project the change of contractor and the full incorporation of a new one can take months or even years.
The source consulted said that one of the main difficulties to be faced is the replacement of the labor force currently working on the project (5,000 people), since there is a human team that “is from the entrails of each of the companies”. He said that the work force will not accept starting a new job with an unknown third party due to principles, values and even convenience from the labor point of view.
“The knowledge is in the hands of engineers, operators and professionals, and this is not achieved overnight,” he added.
In addition, he said that for all the new provisional installations, equipment will have to be sent to be made (the ones that exist are from the current contractors) and the firms that arrive have to re-process environmental licenses, a process that takes about a year.
“Just one of the environmental licenses to have the authorization for the camp’s water treatment plant took years,” he warned.
Bottom-Line: Concerns and uncertainty continue to grow over Hidroituango, thanks to EPM’s institutional crisis and the possible change of contractors.
The outlook is bleak and the company and the Medellin Mayor’s office are doing little to change the situation.