Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Airport Misinformation

La Tribuna reported this morning that the Lobo Sosa government promises to build two airports in the Department of Copan, one at Rio Amarillo and one at La Concepción. Really? Is that even financial feasible? Who will fund it? We have our doubts about this story.

Tiempo, on the other hand, reported yesterday that the government will call a representative assembly of the municipalities of the Departments of Copan, Lempira, Ocotepeque, and Intibuca to decide where to build the airport. La Tribuna published an article yesterday that agreed in detail with what the Tiempo article reported.

Confused? Either La Tribuna is, or we are.

The story yesterday was prompted by a meeting between two of the presidential designates, Maria Antonieta Guillén and Victor Hugo Barníca, the Minister of Tourism, Nelly Jerez, and the Secretary of Public Works, Transport, and Housing, Miguel Pastor, and a delegation from Santa Rosa de Copan and La Concepción headed by Monseignor Luis Alfonso Santos, the Bishop of Santa Rosa de Copan. The Alcalde of La Concepción, José Tulio Sánchez told reporters that the land owners there were willing to donate 40 manzanas of land for the airport, saving the government about $5 million, the asking price for the land in Rio Amarillo, if it chooses to build the airport at La Concepción.

Yesterday Guillén was quoted as saying
"There are two options, one alternative is Rio Amarillo and the other is La Concepción; the smart decision of the President is not to exclude one or the other but to consider both possibilities in terms of analyzing the convenience of building either airport."

Yesterday the story was that the central government would not make the decision, the communities would make it.

Today the message La Tribuna reports is that Guillén told them that the government would build both airports to avoid a confrontation between the municipalities of the region. Except that it's not at all clear she said exactly that, since the rest of the article is full of phrases about weighing the benefits of each, and that those benefits would be discussed in a regional assembly by the 25 of March.

Guillén is cited as the source of another dubious piece of information in the La Tribuna article. She is reported to have stated it would cost over 400 million lempiras to construct the road from La Concepcion to Santa Rita to connect that airport with Copan Ruinas. Yet a year ago, an article from Hondudiario reposted in an Internet forum cited the cost of 24 kilometers of road as 116 million lempiras. Where did this inflated estimate of 400 million come from? Proceso Digital has an answer: they attribute that bit of information to Miguel Pastor and SOPTRAVI. Using the cost to produce a lane mile of roadway in individual states in the US, this estimate is roughly the same as it would be to construct a similar length road in Louisiana, using US prevailing wages and material prices. For Honduras it seems rather high.

We think today's La Tribuna article is wrong; its simply internally inconsistent and we think Miguel Pastor would do well to question that 400-500 million lempira estimate for the cost of constructing the road in light of the previous estimates around 25 percent of that cost.

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