A Chinese company will resume the Russian project to improve the railway in Cuba

A Chinese company will resume the Russian project to improve the railway in Cuba

The first edition of the International Transport and Logistics Fair held in Cuba closed this Thursday with great joy, but without much precision. The branch minister, Eduardo Rodríguez Dávila, said that almost 40 contracts and more than 100 agreements and business intentions for land, sea and air had been signed.

However, the only one for which there is information is the one signed with a Chinese company to improve the railway, a project that was already attempted with Russia and was paralyzed by Moscow due to the repeated non-compliance of the Cuban side.

The Union of Cuban Railways (UFC) and Beijing Fanglian Technology signed “two letters of intent for the gradual recovery of part of the railway infrastructure,” as the official press called the agreement last Tuesday.

Among the points of the pact are the restoration of the railway and locomotive workshops that are in the Special Development Zone of Mariel, and the importation of parts and pieces of equipment.

Luis Roberto Roses Hernández, general director of the UFC, said that this would allow acquiring “the necessary parts for the maintenance of large Chinese locomotives and the gradual improvement of their reliability, which guarantee a better quality service in cargo transportation. and passengers”.

Beyond that agreement, which for now reflects an intention, Rodríguez Dávila trusted that the event had served to “renew old contacts and make new ones” in order to recover the sustainable development of transportation in Cuba.

“The supply deficit” is due to “the insufficient technical availability of the media and diesel fuel due to the pressure exerted from Washington”

There was also time to blame the US for the poor quality of service. Carlos Alberto Gonzalez Gonzalez, deputy director of the Directorate of Passenger Transportation, said that “the supply deficit” is due to “the insufficient technical availability of the media and diesel fuel due to the pressure exerted from Washington.” In addition, an official note from the ministry highlights that “the complex context” – which also affects the cargo – is due to the “blockade of the United States Government”.

In October 2019, Cuba experienced the prequel to the episode that just happened with China. At that time, the Russian state railway company RZD signed an agreement with the Union of Cuban Railways to modernize the entire Cuban railway structure. The financing was provided by Moscow, with a value of 2,314 million dollars destined for the modernization of the infrastructure in this case (1,000 kilometers of track, materials, technology and training), as well as a circulation control center.

At the end of 2020, the director of RZD, Sergey Pavlov, temporarily terminated the project. “Unfortunately, we have had to suspend our comprehensive modernization project for the Cuban railway infrastructure due to economic difficulties and quarantine restrictions on the island, but we hope to resume work after the situation has stabilized,” he said.

During that stage, Russia sent locomotives to the island, but sources from the railway sector told 14ymedio that the machines were not adequate for the reality of the country. “They are high fuel consumers. Compared to other locomotives on the market, they require a large amount of fuel for their operation and it is already known that this is a problem here, because the supply we have is not always stable,” they affirmed.

The stoppage of the Russian railway continues to this day. In 2020, the executive secretary of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, Oleg Kucheriáviy, warned of the massive cancellation of investments in Cuba due to the non-compliance of Havana.

The official told the Russian press that, of the 60 joint projects, only ten were being carried out and pointed out at a meeting of the Senate International Affairs Commission that the last session of the intergovernmental commission, which was to be held on the island, it was canceled due to “silence” and “procrastination” on the part of the Cuban authorities.

None of this has improved and collective transport remains stuck in the past with no more than the shipment of some equipment that is clearly insufficient.

In addition, Yuri I. Borisov, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and in charge of economic relations with Cuba since 2018, said in reference to the Cuban side. “They are complicated businessmen, I am not going to hide it, the mentality of the past constantly weighs on them. During the negotiations, in the positions they take, it always appears that we are an outpost of the world revolution and they simply have to help us”, he pointed.

With the pandemic, which was especially hard for the Island in 2021, none of this has improved and collective transport remains stuck in the past with nothing more than the shipment of some equipment that is clearly insufficient, such as the japan electric buses waves Belgian buses.

The only supported announcement made by the authorities is the creation of the title of Transportation Engineering, a new career that will train professionals for the administration of human and material resources in that sector.

“The new Transportation engineer will participate in the technology transfer processes, will act with economic conscience taking into account the Cuban reality, and will dominate legal elements related to his professional activity,” said Juan Cogollos, president of the national career commission and professor holder of the University of Cienfuegos, where the specialty will be taught.

The new studies will last four years and include subjects such as transport engineering, electricity and automation, statistics and operational research, economics and process management, and transport technology and operation.

The authorities announced that the graduates will be able to work in the Ministry of Transportation and its business system, the private sector and other organizations linked to the specialty at a time when young people seem more encouraged to leave the Island due to lack of opportunities or the miserable salaries that they get to receive after having studied for years.

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