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Fishermen claim the restoration of Progreso Pier affects their economy

by Sofia Navarro
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The multimillion-dollar project, corresponding to the second phase of the construction of nearly 30 meters of pier, which collapsed over a year ago in the harbor located near the industrial area of Chelem, was criticized by dozens of fishermen who are being affected by the slow progress of the works carried out in secrecy by fishing authorities.

The reason for the rehabilitation was the collapse of over 30 meters of this docking point for larger vessels, which occurred on March 30. The only witness to the incident was Yolber Pérez, a 25-year experienced security guard who was inside the freezing and navigating area, and he notified the permit holders about what had happened. It was necessary to move their boats promptly to prevent irreversible damage.

As you may know, the first stage of the rehabilitation took place in mid-August 2022 when personnel from the National Port System Administration (Asipona) unexpectedly arrived at the port to secure the area and place caution signs.

It was learned that the reconstruction of the dock in its first stage was awarded to the construction company Edificaciones y Proyectos Torres, S.A. de C.V. through a bidding process, and it cost 1,282,353 pesos.

A month ago, personnel from Asipona based in the municipality surprisingly arrived to install plywood boards and signs prohibiting access to unauthorized individuals, as indicated by one of the billboards. The total investment for this construction, according to the billboard, amounts to 5,374,903 pesos.

One of the benefits of this second stage of pier reconstruction is the creation of 482 new jobs. The entities involved in the project, in addition to Asipona, are the Secretariat of the Navy and the General Coordination of Ports and Merchant Marine.

Currently, a backhoe and other machinery can be seen at the work site, preparing the molds that will serve as the foundation for the construction of the pier, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

However, the fishermen claim that there has been no communication or updates from the authorities regarding the progress of the project.

During an interview with the 72-year-old security guard Antonio Pérez Pérez, who has been working at this dock for 44 years, he confirmed that the collapse is the result of more than half a century without any maintenance being provided to this fishing activity site. Since he started working there in 1979, he never saw it being restored.

“I came here several decades ago when the port was already functioning. No external company or government agency ever came to provide assistance in maintaining the pier in excellent condition. This eventually led to the collapse,” he said.

The extent of the impact became apparent when it was discovered that the work would take three months to complete, a timeframe that has been discarded as other sources argue that the enclosed spaces required for the work will be inaccessible for up to four months.

It was mentioned that the unloading operations carried out by several larger vessels on the sides of the collapsed area will be affected, as more than twenty ships that used to have their resting area there have had to relocate since the day of the tragedy.

“We are all affected by the fact that those boats had to be moved. In my case, I now only earn around 1,500 pesos for taking care of the only row assigned to me. The problem is that we don’t see an end to this rehabilitation project because the one-year mark since the collapse of the pier has already passed,” added Antonio Pérez.

Regarding the impact on transporters and other seafarers, their movement through the area has now been interrupted by the plywood fence that has been installed, causing delays in unloading and access to larger navigational vessels.

TYT Newsroom

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