PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES

Dominican Republic 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

RD2044 is working on an array of infrastructure projects in the Dominican Republic that will provide a vital boost to the private sector, including new ports and modern water management.

César Arturo Fernández Florencio
BIOGRAPHY
César Arturo Fernández Florencio studied civil engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) and has directed several projects in the areas of infrastructure and new technologies. As a member of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, Fernández has covered several positions, including Director of Engineering of the Presidency’s Administration Ministry and President of the Commission for Provincial Development. Since 2012, he has been collaborating full time with FUNGLOBE (Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo), under the lead of Dr. Leonel Fernandez, on the visionary RD2044 project. Fernández currently serves also as Chief of Staff of the House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic.

What is the vision behind RD2044?

In 2008, after becoming president for the third time, Leonel Fernándéz launched RD2044 to provide a plan for the construction of the necessary infrastructure set to be completed by 2044, the bicentennial of the founding of the Dominican Republic. Planning requires studying the country, looking for the needs of today and tomorrow, and conducting a proper grassroots project. We visited each province of the country and spoke to the communities. We conducted over 5,000 interviews in a four-year period, and it took us almost four years to research, listen, and establish what the real needs were. We put together a plan involving 1,200 infrastructure projects in the realms of agriculture, energy, tourism, education, communications, and social well-being. Each province will have an average of 26-30 projects, and each government has to select four projects per province during their four-year tenure. We encourage people to put pressure on politicians to adopt these projects as their agenda. Half of the budget for these projects will come from the national budget, while the half will come from PPPs. There are already talks with private companies, though these are in the early stages.

How did you assess the 'real needs'?

First, we had a pre-modern agenda, namely the need for water supply, power supply, and a healthcare system. With urban planners and economic and social developers, we designed projects to help rural communities develop. We mix these pre-modern aspects with a modern agenda, conducted by researchers from prestigious universities such as Columbia University, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Oxford's Saïd Business School.

What projects stand out?

One important project is the passenger and cargo train Juan Pablo Duarte, which will significantly improve the current state of cargo transportation. We move 20 million tons of cargo each year and are growing at a rate of 15-20% per year. We can connect all the ports to create dry ports as well. We can have large dry ports like parking lots of containers, connecting them to the main ports, allowing the entire network of cargo to move in and out from local businesses. If we add passenger trains that can go on the same rails at different times, we have a great business opportunity. Another project that personally interests me, as civil engineer, is the underwater Ozama River tunnel in Santo Domingo, which is still at a preliminary design stage.

What stage are you in and what are the next steps?

We recently completed the projecting phase and are currently in the communication phase. At the same time, we are working with the government to pass a PPP law. We are waiting for this political process to end so that we can start pushing for all these projects to start, hopefully by the end of 2019 or the start of 2020. The project we have put together is the most serious project undertaken in the Dominican Republic, and we are incredibly proud of the research that has been undertaken to reflect the needs and requirements of the Dominican people.