Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bringing people together – a good thing?

Peru has a population of 29,797,694 – oops make that 29,797,695. Its land mass is 496,226 sq miles, which leads to a gross population density of .02 people per sq mile…lots of elbow room if you live in the jungle or highlands. Not so if you’re a coastal city dweller. Narrow streets and sidewalks plus businesses, schools, universities and even bus stations located in or very near city centers all serve to funnel an increasing population into existing space.

There is evidence that city planning is attempting to deal with the problem. In Chiclayo a major new bus terminal is being planned well away from the city’s center to alleviate congestion contributed to by the departure/arrival of 500 busses daily. An entire new subdivision is being constructed near the city of Pimentel. And yet Chiclayo’s streets are becoming more crowded. One of the problems is that upward expansion of existing buildings in the city is outpacing growth on the cities fringes.

It is not possible to walk more than 4 – 5 blocks anywhere in the city without encountering remodeling involving the addition of several new levels. My impression is that the majority of these building expansions aren’t driven by need but by speculation; the value of real estate continues to rise along with the opportunity to charge higher rent. This building is going to add anywhere from 100 to 200 people to the blocks population, placing increased demand on street and sidewalk space as well as the adjacent park benches.

Chiclayanos are accustomed to bumping and being bumped into when out and about – it goes with the territory. For us imports the concept of ‘full contact’ walking while on the streets or even in a mall, hospital or park is something that takes getting used to.


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