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Ecuador 2014 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Paola Carvajal, Minister of Transport and Public Works, on investment in transportation infrastructure, responding to changes in the maritime industry, and developments in the aviation industry.

HE Paola Carvajal
BIOGRAPHY
Paola Carvajal was born in Guayaquil and graduated in Civil Engineering from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico. She has a Higher Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management, and is currently working on her doctoral thesis in civil engineering with a focus on transport at the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña in Spain. She has certification in auditing and urban planning, and has participated in a training program for administrators of public transport along with numerous other courses. Since 2006 she has served as a Professor at the Universidad Católica de Guayaquil, introducing ideas and courses from other countries and systems. Most recently, she worked as Executive Director of the Agencia Nacional de Tránsito from December 2012 to March 2014.

In your capacity as Minister, what do you currently identify as the greatest strengths and weaknesses of Ecuador's transport infrastructure?

Our greatest strength right now is that the national government and the Ministry finally have an integrated vision that takes into account all modes of transport and the connections between them. During the term of this government, as part of the “citizens revolution," there has been increased investment in multi-modal transport infrastructure, which for many years had been unattended to, or non-existent, in order to provide the most modern transport and logistics systems, as well as promote greater regional integration for Ecuador. Furthermore, Ecuador has a national road network of the first order, which serves as a base for maintaining high levels of service, allowing conservation of the network. Finally, we have airports that can meet the needs of our economy with modern systems of navigation.

With the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Mobility and Transport, we are working to overcome many of the weaknesses that persist in our transport system. We will have a balanced and integrated road system, which will connect the entire country with infrastructure that is modern, and fit for purpose, for all modes of transport. We will also have secure roads that meet international standards allowing us to increase capacity. Additionally, our airports and seaports will be standardized to international norms, and our railways will have an integrated automated signaling system. Finally, overall, we are working to develop improved multi-modal transport integration between all forms of transport.

What efforts is the government making to ensure that Ecuador's maritime sector remains competitive with the expansion of the Panama Canal?

Our three priorities in this area are to define a national vision and policy for our ports, to develop the Sectoral Port Plan, and to continue investing according to the needs of each port. In addition, the development of the Port of Manta will permit ships of a greater draft to come to Ecuador's ports, which will allow us to receive vessels whose only other option is Panama.

What is your vision for the air travel sector in Ecuador?

The vision of the Ministry with respect to the air travel sector is based on coordinated investment in infrastructure and services, as much in the air travel sector as in the airports themselves, in order to develop national destinations and bring benefits to the regions located within the area of influence of these airports. This has motivated the gradual growth in routes and frequencies within the country. In accordance with the investments that have been made, the Ministry is updating the Air Services Agreements with our sister nations, in order to improve international air travel connectivity and attract a wider network of transport services to benefit passengers and improve our export capacity.

What role can the private sector have in the development of Ecuador's transport infrastructure?

By using public-private partnership (PPP) models, we can increase investment in infrastructure in Ecuador. It should also be mentioned that the construction sector, specifically relating to transport infrastructure, has benefited from a historic level of investment in recent years.

What are your priorities for transport and infrastructure policies?

Our top priority is to guarantee access to transport and mobility services that are inclusive, secure, and sustainable on a local and international level. I also want to use transport policy to promote the conditions of competitiveness and productivity that are necessary to enable the transformation of the productive matrix, and the consolidation of the most equitable structures for the generation and distribution of wealth. Overall, my goal is to enable connectivity through different modes of transport at the highest standards of quality.