Julio Fuentes, General Manager of the Honduras National Railway, has reported the theft of hundreds of miles of track, as the country looks for international investment to revive of the countries once great rail network.
Mr Fuentes reported that it is very difficult to track down the perpetrators, as the materials are quickly broken down and sold for scrap. He reported, for example, that only 100km of the 540km Sula Valley stretch are now operable as a result of unauthorized scrappage.
The most seriously affected sectors are those where the network is no longer in operation, including the corridor between Puerto Cortes and Tela Baracoa, as well as La Lima and El Progreso, which now have almost no track remaining.
“There are only rails near the road, but once the route comes to a somewhat secluded area and is no longer visible, individuals make them their own; it is for this reason it is so difficult to control looting” Julio Fuentes explained.
He explained that the pieces of track are stolen by communities who come and cut the track the first day, then return the next day until the whole stretch of track is removed. The stolen material is then hidden under tried firewood to avoid detection.
The theft of existing materials is a serious impediment to the systems revival. The company met with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) last week to request support as they look to launch studies into the development of a corridor running north from Puerto Cortés Potrerillos.