A leading Mexican government minister wowed delegates at FIDIC’s International Infrastructure Conference, when he outlined an ambitious five-year infrastructure plan that puts people firmly at the heart of its three main programmes. Rob O’Connor reports from Mexico City.
Jesus Antonio Esteva Medina, minister of public infrastructures and services in the government of Mexico City, told delegates at the conference that although the city has an economy bigger than some small countries in Europe, the outskirts of the city are still very poor in comparison.
However, determined to tackle social deprivation and lack of opportunities for some of its population, the minister outlined how bold infrastructure plans for next five years covered a wide range of public works and societal projects, including housing, transport, roads, trains, schools, environmental and community initiatives.
Speaking to Infrastructure Intelligence minutes after stepping off the conference stage, the minister outlined how social infrastructure, sustainable mobility and better public services were the three main foundations that put people at the heart of the city government’s ambitious plans.
“There are three main programmes which reflect the policy of the government,” said the minister. “One is for social infrastructure, which is schools, community centres, hospitals, clinics and infrastructure for justice, jails. Another main programme is sustainable mobility, for which we’re constructing new bus lanes, constructing subways and train facilities, and also 100km of cycle lanes. Finally the other main programme for the city is providing better public services and new opportunities for people across and beyond the city,” he said.
In addition to refurbishing 17,000 homes in the region, the minister described how tackling deprivation and insecurity was a major driving force behind the plans.
“One of the main problems now, not just the city but also in areas further out, is insecurity,” he said. “Insecurity has its origins in social differences and lack of opportunity. So the government visualises the programme as offering the right to education, and to help people from all cultures and backgrounds to have the same opportunities to progress in life. So we are working hard to make sure that the causes of insecurity are being attacked. And that’s how we design and determine the public works we’re constructing this year,” he said.
Confident, warm and engaging, the minister, was delighted that his city was playing host to the conference this year. “For Mexico City and also the country, it's an honour to receive this type and this level of organisation and event,” he said. “It’s very important, and it’s very important in two ways. Firstly, Mexicans can learn from the interaction of all the ideas and experiences being brought to the conference. Secondly, and importantly, the industry leaders and delegates visiting from all over the world can learn about us – and Mexico is a very special country.
“It has a mixture of cultures and we have a way of seeing life differently than other places. We have a way of seeing life with joy and with creativity, and that’s what you will see. We apply and adapt new technologies to our conditions, and we we are confronting our social inequalities with our infrastructure programmes. You’ll see a mixture of cultures working together with creativity and spirit, and I hope delegates will be inspired by that," he said.