MS Risk Blog

Mexico’s Metro Overpass Collapse, could it have been prevented?  

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One of the deadliest incidents in Mexico City for decades, a major metro overpass has collapsed after a train had been travelling over it. The crash had occurred at around 22:00 local time on May 3rd near Olivos station. According to local media, residents had noticed cracks in the structure after a 2017 earthquake. What ended up occurring was a tragic crash with a catastrophic loss of life. As of the 10th of May, 26 people have lost their lives to the crash leading to the loss of life that we now know of today. The reasons for its crash are not yet officially known, but many have blamed corruption and negligence for its causes.

Mexico City subway system Line 12, often known as the “Golden Line” was inaugurated in October 2012 and was considered an important and ambitious project for the city. Its design was to connect both of Mexico City’s more marginalised as well as prosperous areas and allow for better connections for both residents so they could experience everything the city had to offer.

However, the line had also experienced many troubled years of issues and suspended service due to safety issues. In October 2013 the line was suspended on late nights and weekends at 6 of its stations, due to what was described as maintenance issues, as well as in March 2014, when the whole line had been shut until November 2015 in 11 stations due to structural concerns that were raised. The mayor of Mexico City at the time, Miguel Angel Mancera announced that the line would never have to shut again, but as time had gone on it eventually led to the crash we see today.

Mexican President Obrador has said that “nothing will be hidden” after Mexican authorities have promised a full investigation into the collapse of the metro overpass in Mexico City. It was also announced from Mexico City’s Mayor Claudia Sheunbaum that in addition to an investigation by the local attorney’s office, an independent investigation by Norwegian firm DNV will also be conducted.

Arguments for how such an event occurred have begun to surface, with many blaming a variety of reasons for why such an event occurred. Independent journalist Icela Lagunas blamed a combination of factors, including “corrupt officials, dismissing warnings and a badly executed project with plenty of mistakes since its inception.” She refers to the unstable environment caused by a mass earthquake, the most recent being 2017, and the system not being appropriate for an environment such as this.

Mexican columnist Alejandro Hope described the project as being controversial from when it first began, with it being 70% over its original budget and being “plagued” by allegations of corruption.

Tensions have begun to rise across Mexico demanding answers for what had happened. On the evening of Friday 7th, mass demonstrations across Mexico City had been since demanding justice for those killed. The groups of demonstrators converged to the crash site and paid their respects to the victims with candles and flowers. Protests began to erupt, and the blame was firmly given to the politicians by those protesting demanding answers to what they believed was an act of corruption.

Despite Mexico’s President claiming that “nothing will be hidden” following the investigation into the crash, it does raise the question of how such an event had occurred despite frequent comments being made by journalists and the public upon the issues with the metro line. Even despite the line closures and damages caused by 2017’s earthquake, little was done to prevent the disaster. Depending on the result of the investigation, tensions are likely to continue to rise in the city in the short term as anger towards the Government rises. While its unlikely to predict what the investigation will conclude, what is clear is the anger and frustration expressed by Mexico City’s population is not going to go away any time soon until those are brought to account.