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THE METRO IN PANAMA CITY - Conflict Prevention and Dialogue


Author: PAPEP
Country: pa Panama
Language: Spanish / English
Downloads: 2119

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According to our Survey made by PAPEP in February 2010, the transport situation is a central problem in Panamanian society, even though it’s not the principal problem.  For the Panamanians, the principal problems are public security and high cost of living. However, there is total consensus on the need to solve the transportation problem and the Metro seems like an acceptable solution to the people.

With the exclusive reticence by transportation workers, in general the totality of the citizens, acknowledge the existence of a “Transportation Problem”: “chaotic”, “inhuman”, “a disaster”, “a disgrace”, where the “law of the jungle” rules. They attribute to it an immense number of adjectives turning it into an “urban legend”

Research Process :


Position Papers: Four (4) informative essays were prepared about public transportation, and media characterization on Panama communications.

Leadership voices: 24 semi-structured interviews were carried out with qualified informants.

Citizen’s voices :  Two omnibus surveys at national and metropolitan level were carried out February 2010 and  6 Focus Group sessions were held on January 25 to 29, 2010 in the City of Panama


The interviewees attribute the problem of public transportation to the authorities who have not been able to be “competent” and have not been able to resolve the transportation problem due to interests of their own.

Faced with this conflict situation, most of the interviewees consider that neither the government nor the opposition are acting to resolve the issue or taking the needed measures. The citizens feel abandoned by the authorities and perceive an attitude of indifference from them; they also agree that campaign promises are not being fulfilled.

When asked about benefits or advantages that will be obtained with the construction of the Metro in the City of Panama, the shortening of travel times is the principal benefit mentioned by almost half of the interviewees, other benefits mentioned are that the Metro will be a safer transport media, will give better quality of life to the user, will help with rush-hour jams, will bring modernization and development and will improve the country’s image, among others. As to disadvantages, the principal ones mentioned are that homes and businesses near it will suffer and owners will have to be indemnified; as well as noise, dust, more traffic during its construction, probability of flood and increase in fares.   

Based on the opinion of interviewed leaders, due to problems having to do with the project, six areas of probable confrontation between actors were perceived. Four in the short term: Indemnifications (government-owners), transparency and rendering of accounts, impact on everyday life and land-use treatment. And two in long term: Metro Administration and Fare prices.

In this matter, Panama faces two challenges in the short term: How to improve the citizen’s quality of life? And, how to articulate the interests of the different influential actors and be able to implement the Panama Metro Project? 

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