In search of the lost path of Santay Island
Almost less than 500 meters from the pedestrian bridge that connects Santay with Durán, you will find what the settlers and park rangers of the island identify as the embankment.
It is not signposted and although it opens to one side of the road made of aluminum and plastic wood, the access is cut by the fence that forms the side railing. “There is no access. It’s only for guardian tours. It is also used by students from universities that run studies on the island, “says one of the park rangers.
However, the mentioned embankment is what in the original project, which began to be executed in 2014, was called a pedestrian path. In the technical description it is identified as section 2. Section 1 is the elevated road that was built with Chinese plastic wood, which currently presents problems due to the wear of the material.
In the case of section 2, it was designed as a cobblestone path, which makes its way through the east wing of the island and would serve for bicycle tours. In the design proposal it was calculated at 10,143 meters long (just over 10 kilometers).
The line, which can be seen from Google Maps, starts near the Durán bridge and covers a seven-kilometer stretch. It had to end at an intermediate point between the pedestrian bridge of El Oro Street and the Ecovillage. It stays a kilometer before.
“Until then it was built. Currently, it is a path that is lost among the bushes. Commonly, the park rangers must go to clear the road, “added another inhabitant of Santay.
Regarding the reasons why the work was left unfinished, the Works Contracting Service (Secob) clarifies that the initial contract only included the construction of a bridge that crossed towards Santay Island. Then a redesign of the unification of the bridges was made, by means of an elevated path that connected both bridges with the Ecovillage. “This redesign originally contemplated some stations with bathrooms and bicycle parking, but due to budget issues, in the highest sector of the island the design was changed to embankment, because the cost of this differs 2 to 1 with the elevated path”
However, “only the 6 km high path was completed and the 8 km of embankment remained unfinished”.
That is the official version, although on the island it is assured that the work could not be finished “due to technical problems”. Some people say that it was considered that the stony material fence was not suitable for the island, with a high percentage of flood areas. It was not possible to specify the investment that was made in the construction of this work. There was transfer of large amounts of stony material. The path has a width of four meters.
At the time, Emiliano Sornoza, one of Secob’s technical spokesmen, announced that the installation of 20 sewers along the rustic road was planned, taking into account the entrance of the river’s water into the wetland.
José Delgado Mendoza, who in 2010 founded the website ‘The Friends of Santay’, today with more than 40 members, says that it is incredible that a work of this type has been started and that it has been suspended due to technical problems. “Those are defined in planning, not in execution,” he says.
This activist believes that it would be advisable to carry out an audit, but throughout the Santay project.
There are things that are inconceivable, adds Delgado, who recalls the theme of the water treatment plant that was delivered in 2012 and that worked half a year. “What is the use of the families of Santay to have a tap, if there is no service?” Something similar happens with the aforementioned path. It is there, but few know why.
Guayaquil Ecológico started in 2010, with Samanes Park (860.12 hectares), two bridges, an Ecovillage and walkways in Santay, the recovery of Salado.
It occupies 2,214 ha. It is inhabited by 57 families (229 people). It is considered a wetland of international importance and has been incorporated into the National System of Protected Areas. (I)