HAVANA TIMES — An elevated bridge connects the area surrounding Havana’s renowned Luis Diaz Soto Hospital (better known as the “Naval Hospital”) with the neighborhood of Camilo Cienfuegos, part of the Monumental highway, which joins the center of the capital with its east-laying suburbs.
The bridge is used not only by the locals (when requiring immediate medical aid) but also by hundreds of people daily who come from different places around the capital for treatment. It is crossed by those seeking the 106 bus, headed by the municipality of Regla (across the water), and by employees from the hospital or surrounding institutions.
The Monumental is a freeway where cars move at speeds close to 100 kilometers per hour – hence the need for a bridge of this nature.
According to my step-father, it was built in the 1980s in response to the high accident rate at that stretch of highway. The fact of the matter is that it’s been there for as long as I can remember and that, in this time, it has undergone only a handful of partial repairs.
Last year, when my father was admitted at the hospital there, I had to use the bridge repeated times. Every time I crossed it, I was assailed by certain unease, given its noticeable deterioration.
The concrete steps would crumble beneath my feet like candy bars. I was afraid to fall through somewhere, or remain dangling.
About a month ago, one of the steps of the bridge finally collapsed. Since then, pedestrians have had no choice but to cross the highway, which, despite the safety precautions taken, is still fairly dangerous.
These measures will of course be useful only for a little while. They should be temporary, but they haven’t been. To date, there is no evidence any work is being done on the bridge, and it’s already been around a month.
How much longer is it going to take to fix the problem? Who is responsible for ensuring this work gets done? Will we have to wait for them to approve the budget for next year? Will we have to say goodbye to the protection afforded by the bridge?
Once again, the system appears to be far too unwieldy when it comes to solving problems that affect everyone.