CRYSTAL CLEAR

Colombia 2019 | INFRASTRUCTURE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Making the most out of Colombia's water resources and sanitation systems is a major challenge, and IFM is providing services to the government to help in this task.

Luís Carlos Bejarano Parra
BIOGRAPHY
Luís Carlos Bejarano Parra has more than 10 years of experience at IFM S.A.S. Before becoming general manager, he was finance manager for the Colombia and Panama operations. He holds degrees in industrial engineering from Universidad Militar and business administration from Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

What competitive advantage does IFM have in the market?
Over the years, IFM has had positive cycles as well as cycles where it had to rise above the challenges and improve. The company has grown to become a service integrator, a capital integrator, and a benefits integrator for all stakeholders. We integrate supply and tailor-made services to deliver the best products and services to our clients. We focus on providing solutions in the field of drinking water and basic sanitation.

Why is the integration of solutions the best option for industrial clients in Colombia?
IFM's corporate vision of sustainability, which is also the fundamental axis of its vision, and cost-effectiveness are key to its success. When we design something particular for a client, we receive a lot of valuable feedback that helps us generate an effective solution in terms of cost, maintenance, and results. This is the reason why clients choose us over the competition.

What is the importance of the approach to sustainability in Colombia? What challenges do companies face to reach sustainability goals?
The public sector's approach toward water sanitation is changing under Colombia's vision 2030. This change is framed within the vision's sustainable development objectives, and IFM has the products that seek to deliver the required quality. We want to change the system of compliance with a system of service efficiency to minimize the impact on the community and the environment, seeking its continuous improvement.

What is the added value that makes the municipalities choose the services of IFM?
In addition to quality and compliance to industry best standards, IFM is renowned for efficiency. For example, Yopal's strategy to solve its drinking water problems began in 2011; however, it has still not been finalized. IFM came up with an innovative proposal with the support of other firms to create a solution that would provide water to the entire population of Yopal in eight months. IFM is an integrator that studies, designs, improves, constructs and delivers according to the client's needs.

IFM has operations in Peru, Colombia, and Panama. What is the advantage of this international presence?
It allows us to expand our field of action. We integrate our experiences and lessons from one country to another. Colombia is our biggest market; of the 118 projects we have carried out, 112 have been in Colombia.

The needs and parameters of water use in the country are changing due to climate change. What services does IFM have to counter future challenges?
The rational use of water is a challenge for our company, the country, and society in general. For this, IFM has developed improvements for its technologies. The availability of water during summer seasons is a challenge, and IFM has developed alternative systems to alleviate the situation. Our project in Yopal is one success story. We have installed groundwater treatment systems to optimize the use of water and protect the aquifer. IFM finds alternative uses of wastewater where previously potable water was used. We use LEED sustainable architecture for these projects, and so far we have completed and tested two cases in Colombia.

How do you evaluate policies in terms of sustainability in water use and maintenance?
Public policy has improved over time to build models where private participation is promoted. At present, we have a tariff framework that allows the private sector to come up with competitive solutions; however, regulation is still needed for the arrival of private companies with greater competitiveness. The public sector must implement and improve technology, as Colombia has outdated technology for wastewater treatment. There are no incentives for companies and users to improve quality. These things should be considered important in Colombia's future.