Chinese contractor begins work on $137m new town in Panama

China Construction America broke ground this week on Panama’s largest residential development, a $137m new town called Ciudad de Esperanza (City of Hope).

The contractor, which is the American subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation, was awarded the scheme on 4 August. The work has been let as a design-and-build contract and will involve the building of 2,250 homes, parks, sports venues, office buildings and a commercial district. Altogether, it will cover 89 acres.

Construction will mainly take the form of five-storey buildings containing two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 48 to 57 sq m.

Jorge Luis Gonzalez, the vice minister of housing and land management, said the project was for families living in the district of Arraiján in precarious situations, who could not otherwise afford to buy a home. 

The scheme will also host a campus for the University of Panama for West Panama.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Juan Carlos Varela, the president of Panama. He said: "The development of the works that we will begin as of today will bring new jobs and economic development to the communities, which in turn will allow us to continue generating more opportunities so that our vulnerable youth can be part of this great project and help build a better future for Arraiján together."

He added that the project, along with supporting infrastructure being developed by the government, had been allocated using a transparent bidding process.

Also present at the opening ceremony were protesters from the nearby Corotú district, who are complaining that preparations for the work have caused cracks in their houses. The police intervened to keep the demonstrators from disrupting the ground-breaking ceremony.

When complete in September 2018, the project will accommodate about 11,000 people who are presently living in the city of Vista Alegre, which is in the centre of the country, near the Pacific coast. 

Panama’s five-year plan for 2015-19 envisages the spending of $19.5bn in public money, of which $1.5bn will be spent on affordable housing.

Photo: The ground-breaking ceremony, attended by the president of Panama (China Construction America)

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