Three and a half years after work began on the Punta Carretas lighthouse, and more than a year after the papers should have finished, the Ministry of Transport and Public Works (MTOP) gave the green light to complete the marina tendered in the final stretch of the last government of the Broad Front.
“It will be a first stage of the original project, within the additional items we can provide”confirmed the minister José Luis Falero to The Observer. The hierarch explained that the National Hydrography Directorate already has available US$7.5 million –of the almost US$18 million tendered by its predecessors– to advance in one of the two piers originally planned and in the improvement of the esplanade.
The port, which will complement the sports tourist berth that today only admits Diving and Santiago Vázquez, will thus have some 32 moorings for boats. “He asked me to finish it off, we will resume it this year,” said businessman Alejandro Ruibal, head of Saceem.
The construction company understands that –as has happened with the ports of Punta del Este and Piriápolis– this type of facility poses the “chicken or egg” dilemma, generating a “spillover” effect that, with investments in the environment, enables the completion of the work in stages.
From Hydrography they point out that the entire area of the bay – from the anchored boats to those provided by the new pier, plus a possible floating marina with stilts that the authorities are evaluating – will end up housing up to 150 boats, estimated the national director, Marcos Paolini.
a twisted story
The possibility of installing a marina in Punta Carretas had already been contemplated by law since 1994. Six years later, the then mayor Mariano Arana tried to set up a real estate project at that end of the bay, but the private initiative never prospered. Six years later, his successor Ricardo Ehrlich put the issue back on the agenda, with a call for ideas for the area.
Archive of September 2019, beginning of the works in the lighthouse of Punta Carretas
The last government of the Broad Front argued in favor of “complementing the offer of marinas” given the lack of berths between the several kilometers that separate Santiago Vázquez from Buceo, and in 2018 launched the public tender, for which the construction companies Saceem competed. (ultimately triumphant), Ciemsa, Berkes and Stiler.
The works began on December 3, 2019, with a view to inaugurating the brand new port at the beginning of 2022. But, first, the pandemic came that stopped the movements. Then the management of Luis Alberto Heber questioned the work and began to negotiate with Buquebus to stretch the dock and take the cruise ships that today call at the port of Montevideo to the bay.
“It is a work that we would not have done if the decision was in our hands. It is very expensive for us and we have almost no return ”, declared Heber in mid-2020.
The administration itself rejected the Buquebus idea months later, arguing that the dredging made a cruise terminal unfeasible. The project devised in 2018 continued to cool down, this time due to a lack of resources to support the work.
“If the consolidation works of the existing infrastructures were not carried out, there would be no other option than their demolition”alerted the portfolio in response to a request for information from the white senator Amín Niffouri, who claimed to prioritize a marina project for Atlántida.
“The deterioration of the breakwater had entered a phase of accelerated damage so that, in a short time, many stone blocks would be scattered below the water level.. The removal costs of a breakwater are high and the greater the more spread they are”, analyzed the manager of Coordination, Planning and Port Projects of the MTOP, Carlos Colom.
“The existing infrastructures, despite the high degree of deterioration, are still in a condition to be usable. In particular, in the breakwater, having been designed for low extreme waves (…) if it is not intervened as soon as possible, it could no longer be used at the same time that the existing esplanade would begin to be damaged”, the engineer developed.
After reorganizing the budget, the authorities intend to inaugurate the first stage of the work next year and will evaluate how to continue. The project, they acknowledge, will surely have to be completed by future administrations.
Passage to the ANP
The LUC established the passage of this type of ports to the orbit of the National Ports Administration (ANP), which already has jurisdiction over the ports of Carmelo, Colonia and Piriápolis.
Minister Falero told the Transport Commission of Deputies that “andThe passage will be given to the extent that the convenience is analyzed” and there is “certainty that the Port can absorb it”.