Emcali seems trapped in a downward spiral of mismanagement, shady interests, shady contracts and political indolence. / Reference photograph: Mayor’s Office of Cali.
Photo: Mayor of Cali
Something is very wrong in the Municipal companies of Cali (Emcali). After a new scandal exploded due to alleged acts of corruption in a millionaire contract, the city’s public services company was left without a manager and adds another infamy to a long list of complaints and irregularities in its management.
Televisions for $42 million, office chairs for $17 million, workstations for $49 million and video screens for $763 million were some of the outlandish cost overruns that raised alarms about a disputed smart metering contract that Emcali signed with the temporary union AMI for $215,000 million, which was to run for seven years. After the first complaints made by the Sintraemcali union, collected and amplified by councilors, congressmen and the media, in a matter of hours the manager of the company, Juan Diego Flórez, resigned from his position without offering further explanations, and the mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, ordered to cancel the contract.
But the Emcali crisis is not new. The scandal with AMI was just the latest in a string of anomalies and suspicions of corruption that have surrounded the company. A few weeks ago, after questioning the process and strong media pressure, Flórez declared void a call for $90,000 million to build a solar energy farm in Mulaló (Valle) that had been awarded to a paper company. According to complaints, once again, from Sintraemcali and investigations by W Radio, the specifications would have favored a single bidder who also did not meet the requirements. As if that were not enough, in 2021 the Comptroller determined tax findings for more than $17,000 million and multiple irregularities in the management of Emcali. It is obvious that the situation has been deplorable for a long time.
That is why the mayor’s words passionately defending Flórez’s troubled management, while accepting his resignation, are strange to say the least. He also dismissed the complaints and expressed the hope that it was a “documentary error”, something that is now up to the authorities to determine. One wonders about the political responsibility of Ospina, who is the president of the board of directors of Emcali and reacts by trying to reduce a serious crisis to fortuitous events.
And the control entities? It was not but that the news exploded so that everyone jumped. The Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Comptroller General’s Office announced investigations into alleged acts of corruption. The latter will also carry out an intervention and a public hearing to receive reports and complaints. Will there be the same diligence in the results, although they have come late to review the wrong? We’ll see.
That still doesn’t solve the Emcali mess, which seems caught in a downward spiral of mismanagement, shady interests, shady contracts and political indolence. Quite rightly, several councilors expressed their frustration and have called for fundamental changes in the company. Meanwhile, it seems that citizen surveillance is the only one that is aware of what is happening in Emcali.
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