Curundu, one of Panama City´s poorest and most crime ridden neighborhoods has been slated by the government since mid last year for a facelift Brazilian style. This is a pilot plan which if successful in Curundu will be emulated in some of the 350 improvised neighborhoods consisting of dwellings without running water, tin roofs and cardboard walls in which approximately 125,000 people currently live. The process will model the social interest housing project Brazil successfully carried out in the favelas.
The area to be renovated is 1.1 kilometers squared with approximately 19,000 dwellers. The changes to be made are quite comprehensive. It is not only building houses: it will include revamping the drainage systems, soil studies to make the soil steady enough to support the buildings and engineering works to channel the river in order to prevent flooding of the residential area. Existing community buildings such as schools, libraries, health centers, sports installations will be reconditioned so they are usable to the community once again. The physical infrastructure changes are paired with education and training for the dwellers so they value and care for the new properties. Once the project is finally completed there will be be 1,000 new dwellings in the area.
One of the aspects of the project, now being called Project Curundu, is the social change that must take place in the current dwellers of the area so they can value and take care of the new infrastructure they will be getting. There is a saying in Spanish that says that if something is free the receiver will not attach any value to it. In order to instill pride in the dwellers and help them actually value what they are getting the new residences in Curundu will come with a price tag for dwellers. Apartments in the Curundu Project may cost between USD15,000.00 and USD20,000.00 with a dimension of 46 to 50 square meters with two bedrooms, bathroom, living and dining area plus laundry.
Curundu Project is expected to directly benefit some 5,000 people, will cost an estimated $83 million 475 thousand dollars, should start the 30th of March of this year and be completed within three years, in 2012. The cost of the project includes the temporary relocation of the families while the project is carried out.
The act for receiving the tenders was carried out the first days of January and the tenders of three companies were accepted. Three companies pre-qualified for the project which will be assigned to the company making the best offer while complying with the other requirements stipulated in the tender. The three companies are Norberto Odebrecht with an offer for $94 million 363 thousand five hundred, Constructora Urbana for $94 million 933 thousand 650 and Meco S.A. for $95 million 397 thousand 750. All three of these companies also participated in the bidding for the Canal Expansion projects. The proposals will be evaluated by a multi-disciplinary commission composed of members of the Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of Housing, as well as by a local architect. The proposals will be evaluated with 65% of the points going to the technical, social and environmental aspects of each proposal and 35% to the economic value of the proposal. The commission will have 20 days to issue their report and select a winning bid.
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