Juan Carlos Zuleta writes in La Prensa:
RAILWAY, PAST AND PRESENT
For the geographical, topographical and population density characteristics of our country; the railway transport sector has become extremely important as a means of enabling the movement of people and exchange of goods, it “allowed” an effective integration of the country. This was prior to 1996, there was missing only the construction of a variation of about 70 kilometers in the red zone, the stretch Oruro – Cochabamba and the construction of the interconnection Aiquile – Santa Cruz [between the two networks].
The capitalization of Railways had disastrous results for the country, the Andean network was capitalized at $13,251,000 and the Eastern [Oriental] network at $25,853,099 dollars, lower than the appraisal made by Levin Consulting, whose amounts were $54,525,526 for the Andean network and $58,798,802 for the Oriental network, showing a difference of $74,247,229 that the country failed to receive, many services were terminated and no one knows what happened to the dockyard workshops.
What we have now. In the Andean network, by Andino railway, trains are no longer admitted to the Central Station and the milling of Pura Pura; not even to enter the train station of the city of El Alto. Passengers of La Paz and Cochabamba who wish to travel south of the country, should go to Oruro and from there take the train. The new generations no longer know the trains and only see in movies or on television. In Cochabamba and La Paz there are no trains, the line between Oruro and Cochabamba, a stretch that was returned by Ferrocarril Andino to the state was definitively cut, because it is deficient, the railroads were given an unrealistically low amount and for this reason they had to be rehabilitated as ENFE did every year.
In summary , the capitalization of ENFE did not benefit at all the train service, because nothing was modernized, equipment, better service, the railroad is not in good condition, but surely the company profits are attractive, because nothing is subsidized, there are less services that ENFE offers to the passengers.
The Eastern network is perhaps the least one with observations, but also has been much more profitable than the Andean network.
As a consequence of the capitalization of the companies of the Bolivians, Sirese (Sectoral Regulation System) was created to monitor, control, supervise and regulate the activities, mainly of capitalized companies, in this regard the Superintendent of Transport and Communications should have devoted to see that contracts were fulfilled, however, by how little the public knows, apparently id did not fulfill its responsibility, the improvements that were required to implement the two networks and for all we know, we have not seen the economic performance prior to the capitalization years, and they had to recover the investment made so that today the whole movement of trains is a net return, both freight and what little they do in the transport of passengers, of course the eastern network was and is much more profitable.
Neither the superintendents nor the Audit and Social Control Authority of Telecommunications, and Transportation reported and report about the status of the companies, there is no review on this topic, not even the media does not take interest in railways.
I liked this article which also reinforces the concept that a critical element for a sustainable development condition is to have an integrated, solid railroad system. If we look at India versus Africa, for example we will see how the former is so densely integrated as opposed to Africa and the socioeconomic results are evident. Bolivia not only needs to reinvigorate both Andean and Eastern networks but also connect both and expand to other regions of our country.