Deal with Venezuela to improve transport infrastructure

Campaign News | Thursday, 28 September 2006

International fair opens in Havana

HAVANA Cuba's International Transport Fair opened Wednesday with the goal of improving the island's ailing transport sector with the purchase of buses from Belarus and China and a new railroad deal with Venezuela, state-run media reported.

Representatives from 40 countries have exhibitions at the event, which runs through Saturday. Venezuela, China and Russia rented out entire pavilions, and Iran is attending for the first time, according to Transportation Minister Carlos Manuel Pazo.

Pazo told the government's business weekly Opciones that the event will try to ease transportation woes on the island but warned Cubans not to have "false hopes."

Cuba's internal transport system steadily deteriorated after the crushing economic crisis of the early to mid-1990s caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's longtime backer. Cubans often spend hours waiting for buses that never come, or are already full when they arrive.

The government stepped up recovery efforts early last year, importing 80 buses from China. It also repaired some 60 locomotives and 1,800 railway cars for transport across the island.

The transportation minister said Cuba will sign an agreement with Venezuela this week to form a joint-enterprise company to deal with railway development. A plan to purchase 100 buses from Belarus will also be announced, he said.

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