Suddenly, concrete plants, spreading all over the city.
According to some estimates, between six and ten concrete plants are now active inside the Caracas metropolitan area. The construction boom, driven mostly by the government’s big new housing program, which saw public spending on housing rise 131% year on year in the first quarter, is in plain sight. What a coincidence that this is all happening in an election year, huh?
Unsurprisingly, the enviromental hazards associated with making concrete in the middle of a city were not considered in the process. Now, there is evidence that the plants have produced a small increase of respiratory diseases.
The standout is the concrete plant installed on the Air Force Base known as La Carlota. This facility, which sits next to a factory/warehouse for “Canaimita” laptops, is the latest chapter of the neverending story that is the future of this airbase, located in the middle of the capital. While state media present it as a success, neighbors are demanding its inmediate closing and they’re organizing: from traditional protests to creating a blog.
Air pollution in Caracas didn’t start overnight. The city was already having a lack of clean air, produced in great part by traffic congestions and the conditions of many vehicules, including those dedicated to public transportation. It’s hard to say how big are the levels of pollution, given that the last study done by the authorities was two years ago. The surge of these concreteras makes it worse, something that locals are very aware about.
The official position of the Chavernment is simply dismiss the issue, while using it to exacerbate political polarization. The losers of all this are the people of Caracas, specially for the children who can’t even enjoy fresh air while they’re in school. Gracias, Farruco!
UPDATE: Commenter Roy shares an important point about the issue:
“The problem is NOT the existence of concrete batch plants inside the urban areas. All major cities have a proliferation of these plants. Normal standards for concrete construction require that the concrete be placed within one hour from the time that the water is introduced into the mix. Concrete batch plants are located throughout cities to provide ready-mix concrete to all locations in under a half-hour’s transit time (preferably less). These plants are usually located unobtrusively in hidden zones, but effective urban planning provides for these.
No, the problem is that the new plants are not implementing what are normal and routine measures for dust control and air quality management. Private enterprises have to do so, by law and custom. State enterprises… well, you can see the result. There is no accountability. Socialism at work…”