Located on the Cauca River between the municipality of Ituango and the town of Puerto Valdivia and estimated to supply energy to a large section of the western Colombia, Hidroituango is one of the most ambitious hydroelectric projects to have been implemented in the country in recent years. Construction of the project began in November 2010, once the tender —in which the Chinese company Sinohydro participated— launched by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) was won by the CCCI Consortium. According to the execution schedule, the hydroelectric power plant was expected to be operational by the end of 2018; however, the project had to be suspended due to obstructions in the Cauca River detour tunnels. These obstructions were caused by geological faults in the terrain, and heavy rains that hit the region during the month of April. On the other hand, project failures were attributed to negligence in the development of detailed engineering studies, leading to the filing of disciplinary, fiscal, and criminal proceedings in different Colombian institutional instances.
Colombia’s Comptroller General recently issued a ruling on the COP $ 4 billion cost overruns caused by the project’s failures. The Comptroller’s ruling opened the debate on the need to replace the contractors in charge of project construction. Among the supporters of this measure are the Mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero and the Manager of EPM, Jorge Andrés Carrillo. If a new tender is launched to select a company to continue the construction work, China’s Sinohydro is expected to resume its interest in the project. In fact, some Colombian media claim that, given its vast experience, the Chinese company would be the only one capable of dealing such a challenge. Indeed, Sinohydro was in charge of building the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world: Three Gorges in China. This change of contractor is not yet certain as several of the country’s political sectors are opposed to it. In any case, representatives of the Chinese company visited the project on September 13, 2021, together with representatives from other foreign and Colombian companies.
Top news stories:
Rivera, D. (2021). Ocho constructores del mundo visitan Hidroituango.
El Colombiano (2021). Hidroituango: cumbre en Casa de Nariño para resolver crisis.
Flórez, J.M. y Rodríguez, S. (2021). Quintero armó el camino para escoger nuevos contratistas de Hidroituango.