Huge investments are being made in Colombia's housing and infrastructure – two sectors identified by the President as key to the country's development
The administration’s objective is to build 1 million homes for Colombia’s poorer citizens. The Macro Projects Law of Social Housing, created for this purpose, considers assisting Colombia’s estimated 1.5 million homeless people as a matter of national interest.
“This law simply streamlines procedures of rezoning land and lifting building restrictions so that it can be designated as building land,” explains Beatriz Uribe Botero, Colombia’s Former Minister of Housing, City and Territory. The law will allow the country to accelerate the current average of 150,000 homes built per year.
Social housing projects are planned throughout the country. “We have, for example, a project for 25,000 homes in Cartagena, one in Barranquilla for 25,000, another in Soacha for 40,000, and one in Pereira for 10,000 homes,” adds Ms. Uribe Botero.
The housing sector grew 8.8% during the second quarter of 2011, compared with the same period of 2010. The sector generated 54,000 direct jobs between last July and September, 8% of the 683,000 jobs created in Colombia during that period.
Two of the largest construction companies helping drive this forward are Amarilo and Pedro Gómez, with projects such as La Felicidad and Ciudad Verde respectively, offering quality housing solutions to the lower classes.
President Santos has allocated a sizeable 10-year $55 billion transport and infrastructure investment plan, of which $25 billion will be spent during the next five years.
The decentralization process and the recently ratified royalties law are considered catalysts that will boost the much needed infrastructure development of the country.
Improving the road network is another project on the government’s infrastructure agenda. Projects include connecting Medellín to the Pacific and Caribbean ports and the ambitious Montaña highway development.
Colombia’s airports play an active role not only in the transportation of people and goods, but also in the economic development of the country.
In 2009, 15.6 million passengers travelled through Colombia’s airports, nearly double the 8 million in 1991. By 2010 passenger traffic had exceeded the demand forecast for 2014 and it is expected to continue rising, according to Colombia’s Civil Aviation Agency (Aerocivil).
To meet the country’s needs, projects under way include the construction of two new passenger terminals at Bogota’s El Dorado Airport, a new concession for Barranquilla’s airport and a new airport in Ipiales.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation, Colombia’s Maritime Authority (Dimar) is currently working on improving the country’s ports in order to maximize the benefits of the free trade agreement (FTA).
Colombia is strategically located at the heart of the Caribbean – one of the world’s busiest spots for international trade. And it is the only country in South America that has ports on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
A plan is currently under investigation to quintuple the shipping capacity of the Magdalena River – once Colombia’s main economic artery, being easily accessible from both Bogota and Medellin. One large barge could move the same amount of cargo as 75 articulated lorries, although 560 miles will have to be dredged.
Projects reviving the railways include China’s plans to finance and build a “dry canal” to link the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Another project will link the Carare rail network with the Ferrocarril Central railway to increase coal transfer to an estimated 30 million tons per year. Colombia’s mining industry is not only relevant financially, but it is also crucial in developing infrastructure in remote areas to bring greater prosperity.