Bogotá is not prepared for it role as a megacity

Bogotá is on the road to turning into a megacity (a city with more than 10 million inhabitants) but it will not be able to answer to the demands posed by urban services.

Bogotá which currently has close to 8 million inhabitants, but its dynamics due to being a capital city, adds thousands more on a daily basis, urgently needs to find efficient government mechanisms to face citizen needs and demands.

As said by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Urban Studies Institute (IEU, for its Spanish acronym) Professor Carlos Alberto Patiño after analyzing the consequences of the political transformation of Mexico City from being a Federal District to a State of the Republic of Mexico.

In fact the reform of the Mexican capital which will have legislative, political and administrative autonomy and inclusively a new constitution that will commence in 2018, is already posing serious challenges in face of issues such as environmental, mobility, transportation, and services guarantees among others.

The peripheral inhabitants of Mexico City contribute their offer of goods and services to the city. Bogotá has a similar situation with the inhabitants of municipalities such as Chía and Soacha, among others.

According to Patiño, Bogotá is not only facing the demands of its inhabitants but from other neighboring municipalities adding to a possible total of 9.5 million inhabitants and with a floating population, this figure could increase to 12 million people.

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México Professor and PhD in Environmental Studies Esthela Sotelo said that people who live in the periphery of Mexico City have a 1 hour 53 minute average commute to get to their places of work.

“Based on this population irreversible urbanization context associated to mobility structures, it is impossible to continue managing urban realities of more than 8 million people with two century old municipal models,” said IEU Professor Fabio Zambrano.

For instance comparing what happened with the previous mobility solutions for the city of Soacha with the recently announced measures for the north of the city of Bogotá by expanding the northern highway (autopista norte) which according to Zambrano, one of the challenges is focusing on another type of urban governance if we want to correct territorial inequalities.

Sotelo then highlighted that this is one of the greatest challenges in her country. The right to the land should be granted by the authorities and not by real estate speculation.

Regarding inequality, a recent study in Mexico determined that while a inhabitant of the downtown has the right to 600 liters (158 gallons) of water a day, in the periphery they barely receive 50 (13 gallons).

The reform which provides autonomy to Mexico City says citizens can vote and participate in their own institutional reforms. However those who contribute to offer goods and services to Mexico City but do not live there cannot do so, a fact which is totally incoherent.

For Patiño, although this cannot be applied to Colombia, this proves citizens may make up their own governments and participate in institutional mechanisms. Therefore the real significance is that decisions are not totally taken by politics but by citizen participation, which is more plural.

Growth in Bogotá and generally in all large cities poses great challenges in terms of zoning plans and unification above all.

For Sotelo there is a vice in the national scope which is reproduced in Mexico City with three independent governmental planning systems which create planning chaos in the city. This issue is also reproduced elsewhere in Mexico creating greater trauma between territorial entities and planning strategies.

Discussion of these challenges were carried out during the seminar entitled, “Political transformation of the urban areas of Mexico City,” organized by the UNal Urban Studies Institute with support from the Ibero-American History and Political Theory Network.

Agencia de Noticias UNAL |

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