Although Colombia has become one of the most attractive countries for doing business in Latin America 1, the country’s development in the transportation infrastructure lags behind in comparison with other countries of the region 2.
The National Government has already identified 3 that 53 current transportation infrastructure projects are having some type of problem related with environmental licenses (80% of the projects), prior consultation with indigenous communities (27% of the projects) and with the owners of the real estate (23% of the projects).
Looking to address the principal identified problems, a new Transportation Infrastructure Law – Law 1682 of 2013 (Infrastructure Law), was enacted and which entered into force on November 22, 2013.
The Government is expecting that with the Infrastructure Law, development of the existing infrastructure projects will be considerably improved and that future projects, like the so-called fourth generation (4G) of Concessions will not suffer the same delays as the current concessions.
Worth highlighting of the Infrastructure Law are:
- Administrative Expropriation:
In Colombia, the expropriation was usually conducted by a judicial process and, only, in certain exceptional events, by an administrative process.
Under the Infrastructure Law, the governmental entities will now be authorized to conduct the administrative expropriation, once the voluntary purchase phase has ended. This procedure will be considerably faster in comparison with the judicial proceeding, and, therefore, the concessionaire will be able to begin with the construction in a shorter period of time.
- Prior Consultation:
After year 2016, the Government entity will only be able to start with the bidding process of a transportation infrastructure project, if it has concluded the prior consultation process with the indigenous communities located in the area.
This will relief the concessionaire of this obligation and will speed-up obtainment of the required environmental licenses.
- Environmental Licenses:
In order to assure a time efficient maintenance, rehabilitation and improvement of the existing transportation infrastructure, the Infrastructure Law sets forth that these activities will not require an environmental license.
Notwithstanding the above, we need to point out that the enforceability of this new provision will be subject to further regulations that should be issued by the Government in the near future.