Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Las Diamelas Mototaxi Association

A theme common in some of my recent posts has been the gradual change toward modernization in Chiclayo. It’s happening slowly in many facets of daily life. Yesterday the Las Diamelas Mototaxi Association took a formal step in that change process...a step that is intended to reduce crime as well as improve safety.

Many Chiclayanos rely on moto taxis to travel short distances both day and night. Unfortunately moto taxis are a favorite tool for many thieves, and especially at night. They usually work in teams of two, driving non-descript  vehicles without lights or plates. One of their methods is to quickly pull up next to a target they’ve decided on in advance. One of the thieves will jump out; grab a purse, camera or cell phone and be back in the now departing moto before the victim knows what happened. Another method is to drive the unsuspecting passenger(s) to a dark location where confederates are waiting to strong arm the victims.

In order to reduce the use of motos for robbery, Chiclayo authorities have recently issued new regulations. Yesterday the entire Las Diamelas Mototaxi Association had assembled for a mandatory inspection by transportation authorities. Inspectors first asked to see their documents which include the national identification card, proof of moto ownership, driver’s license and insurance certificate.  

Next the vehicles were inspected for safety, and then for conformation to appearance and display of required information. In the past there were no regulations regarding color or vehicle/association identification except for a rear mounted license plate. The changes are significant. Exterior covering material must be a specific shade of blue. License plates must be visible and permanently mounted. A mandatory yellow sign atop the moto must display the complete association name on the front, and show the individual license plate number on the back. If the moto driver works during the evening, the yellow sign must be capable of being illuminated.  What the information on the sign means (Asociacion Las Diamelas 2 Y 3) is that motos belonging to this association are authorized to use the 2nd and 3rd blocks on Ave. Las Diamelas to park their motos while waiting for passengers, similar to a taxi stand in the USA.

The guys had worked hard to get their motos clean and to code. One thing they did not anticipate was being told that decals or other obstructions on the fairing and windows are prohibited. Decals are popular here on taxis and moto taxis, so many were scrambling to remove them before the inspector got to their machine. Decals are not just a safety concern. It is common, at least in Chiclayo, for combi, taxi, colectivo and moto taxi owners to pay ‘protection’. The protection fee is typically one Nuevo Sol per day per vehicle. The extortionist will give a unique decal to the vehicle owner to affix to a window, warning off other extortionists. Police are familiar with the decals and their purpose and insist that owners remove them.

Soon all moto taxis in Chiclayo will look identical to each other. So how does that reduce crime? I’m not sure it will. It could have the opposite affect…thieves motos will be indistinguishable from any other. And they will find a way to attach and remove phony or stolen yellow signs in seconds.

The best advice to avoid moto taxi thievery is to use drivers waiting for passengers in a legitimate moto park. Secondly, if any moto – legitimate looking or not should quickly stop next to you, don’t even think about it…run!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Promesa Peru 2012 Financial Report

During calendar year 2012 Promesa Peru sponsored three activities. In February we donated school supplies to the village of Tierras Blancas. July found us in Zapotal, also providing school supplies. In December we sponsored a Chocolatada in Puerto Arturo.

The financial side of those activities is as follows:

Activity                                                     Cost               Donations

Tierras Blancas school supplies -               $308.18         $178.46

Zapotal school supplies -                           $161.91*        $0.00

Puerto Arturo chocolatada -                       $267.46         $150.00

                                   2012 Totals -          $737.55         $328.46
                                   2011 Totals -          $924.53         $362.24         

The cost figures represent purchased goods and services directly attributed to the specific activities, and do not reflect out of pocket or administrative expenses borne by board members.

The lower total activity cost for the year…$737.55 versus $924.53 in 2011is due to operating closer to our base in Chiclayo thus reducing transportation cost; selecting schools with smaller enrollments, and providing fewer and less expensive toys and school supplies - the later being a case of economic necessity rather than choice. Prices for goods and services have increased from 20 to 30% over 2011while the value of the US dollar has dropped to a December low of 2.55 against the Peruvian Sol. There were no in-kind donations in 2012.

Our thanks to those of you who helped us to help the poor of Peru. We hope we can count on your continued support in 2013.

* Transportation costs not included – allocated to personal expense
Joyce Ann Cline – Treasurer
Promesa Peru Inc.

Rosario Maribel Mestar Macalupu de Filipowicz - Treasurer
Promesa Peru Chiclayo

Friday, January 4, 2013

From Tumbes to Tacna

The distance between Tumbes – the northernmost city in Peru, and Tacna – the southernmost city in Peru via the Pan American highway is 1596 miles. At any given moment on every mile of that highway there will be cars, trucks and buses…lots of buses. Every major city along the route has one or more bus terminals; each of them a scene of frantic activity and especially at night. I’m not sure if Peruvians travel at night because that’s when the buses leave, or if the busses leave at night because that’s when Peruvians want to travel.

At Chiclayo’s OrmeƱo terminal buses leave for Lima and other destinations throughout the day, but the real activity begins at around 6:00pm when buses begin departing about every 20 minutes. There are four other terminals in Chiclayo operating at this same pace, and Chiclayo is just one of a number of cities contributing to the Pan American bus caravan. The number of buses on the road at any one time is staggering. And they have accidents. Not nearly as many nor as spectacular as those buses winding their way through the Andes at night, but it is not unusual to see graphic television images of bus collisions on the Pan American. Besides the accidents, it seems logical to assume that buses are also contributing to pollution.  Beyond safety and pollution there is the time factor. A typical bus trip from Chiclayo to Lima – a distance of 477 miles takes 12 hours – an average of 40 miles per hour, and this on a bus that is supposedly direct. Other buses take as much as 22 hours. To traverse the 1596 miles between Tumbes and Tacna would take a minimum of 40 hours not including lay-over time in Lima to change buses. There should be a better option.

As seen on the map, most major cities in Peru are located on the coast along the Pan American highway where the vast majority or Peru’s population lives. Much of this route, especially between Piura in the north and Lima is flat, featureless desert. Might this not be perfect terrain for high-speed trains such as China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain Taiwan and the United Kingdom already have in place or are constructing? The advantages are many…highway congestion and pollution are reduced, passenger safety and comfort are increased, and modern high-speed trains are much more energy efficient than buses.

There would be significant travel time savings. Most high-speed trains in operation at present have a top speed of about 180 miles per hour, with an average speed of 100 miles per hour. Chiclayo to Lima would take 4.7 hours versus 12. Tumbes to Tacna would be 15.9 hours versus a minimum of 40. An unanswered question is…would Peruvians be willing to pay more (assuming trains would cost more) to reduce travel time? In my experience the average Peruvian does not value time. A typical Peruvian bus passenger is going to or returning from visiting family, or has made small scale local purchases for resale in Lima or some other large city. They have no pressing need to arrive at their destination any earlier. Those people for whom time is an issue…business people, politicians and professionals usually fly. So there may not be passenger demand from a time perspective if the difference in ticket price is too great.

The cost of building these train systems is not cheap, averaging about 15 million per mile. At that rate the cost for the entire Tumbes to Tacna route would be 38.3 billion, but the system obviously wouldn’t be built over night. A good start might be to begin at Lima and work north. Terrain difficulty would be minimized and by encompassing Lima, Trujillo and Chiclayo, three of Peru’s five most populous cities would be served.

Peru’s economy continues to grow. Perhaps spending on national infrastructure that would provide benefit now, and may be a necessity in the future would be a good investment.