July 28, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez approved funds for the construction of a series of new infrastructure projects on his Sunday talk show Aló Presidente yesterday. The new projects are extensions to the nation-wide mass transit systems already in progress. President Chavez called on his ministers to carry out the projects with “socialist values” and insisted on only giving contracts to companies that will transfer technology to Venezuela.
The Venezuelan president opened the show at the construction site of a new system of Austrian-made cable cars known as MetroCable. The cable car system is being constructed as a solution for the thousands of families who live in the hill-side shanty towns of Caracas and whose houses are not accessible by road. The MetroCable will carry residents up and down the steep hills to and from various subway stations, relieving them of the long and many times dangerous walk up hundreds of cement stairs.
“The MetroCable will have an impact on people’s safety, and their standard of living,” said Chavez.
Work began on this project in March of 2007, and the first line is to be completed by October or November of this year. It will run a distance of 1.8 kilometers and will have a total of 5 stations and 52 cars. The cable car technology comes from Austria, and is being installed by a Brazilian construction company.
Chavez called on his government ministers to make sure that these kinds of projects include agreements to transfer the technology so that Venezuela can manufacture the goods inside the country, and become independent of imports.
“We should see if the Austrian company will set up a factory for this equipment in Venezuela and transfer the technology,” he said.
Chavez went on to demand that his ministers require technology transfer as a condition for all government contracts.
“What I am saying is this: foreign companies that don’t want to transfer technology, okay, then there’s no contract for them. Let’s bring other companies that will [transfer the technology]. We have all the raw materials here to produce them.” he said.
President Chavez discussed his recent trip to Europe, and pointed out that many firms from Russia and Belarus have agreed to transfer technology for the construction of trains, tractors, and other goods. Chavez also stressed that Venezuela obtain not only the technology necessary to manufacture the goods, but also the capacity to produce the capital goods needed by the factories, and therefore break dependence on imported technology.
The President approved funds for a number of other projects, including several additions to the Caracas subway system, for a total of $566 million. At the same time, he denounced government bureaucracy that has caused significant delay in many projects
Upon hearing from his ministers the completion dates for some of the projects, Chavez complained that these projects were going too slowly.
“That’s too much time,” he said to one minister. “We have to move faster on these. We can’t let the time go by. It’s now or never. We have to make these projects a priority.”
Chavez also called on his ministers to use “socialist values” in the construction of the various projects, and to include social aspects to improve the quality of life for surrounding communities.
Chavez recalled a project he was involved with to construct a new highway in rural Venezuela where surrounding communities did not benefit, and were left without basic necessities. He called on his ministers to make sure this doesn’t happen with future projects.
“This is where you have to put your socialist values to the test. If I were an engineer I would refuse to do such a big project while at the same time leaving a nearby community without water, for example. We have to have a holistic view, otherwise it doesn’t make sense.”
The various projects announced on Sunday make up part of a nation-wide transport system being constructed by the Venezuelan government, including a national rail system to connect various cities, and subway systems in Maracaibo, Valencia, and Barquisimeto.
Chavez urged those involved in the projects to work hard to have them mostly completed for the bicentennial independence celebration in April, 2010.
“We have to accelerate the plans for the urban transformation of Caracas, here where the first cries for independence rose up 200 years ago,” he said.