The connection between bribery and corruption and security risks and terrorism has been well documented. However, the Odebrecht scandal moves the effect of corruption down directly into ordinary lives of everyday South Americans.
It was recently reported that a major river dredging project, which has been on the books for years and was bid out to Odebrecht is in jeopardy. The project involves the Magdalena River in upper Colombia and was designed to clean out the river to make over 565 miles navigable. Odebrecht had the winning bid of $865 million to complete the project but with its massive corruption admission, “that it paid extensive bribes to land infrastructure projects led Colombian regulators last month to suspend the river works.” Moreover, the Magdalena River project “which promised to triple river cargo, was the cornerstone of a now troubled $25-billion infrastructure initiative to build new highways, airports and ports that would modernize a country bedeviled by its rugged terrain.” This of course comes on the heels of Odebrecht’s admissions that it paid nearly $800 million in bribes for over $3.3 billion in construction projects throughout South America.
The effect of the massive corruption has stopped some 50 major infrastructure projects that the Colombia government had in place. A wide variety of stakeholders, from government officials to the public to potential investors and even sub-contractors are now concerned about the taint of corruption surrounding those projects. Colombian officials are concerned there was a wide remit of corruption in Colombia than was disclosed in the Justice Department resolution documents in December.
The Odebrecht taint has scared off other potential contractors from bidding on many of these projects. Luis Andrade, head of Colombia’s National Infrastructure Agency, said “very few companies” now want to get near the Odebrecht projects because of “risks that are difficult to measure” regarding investigations into the company’s operations,” further noting that “They want to see how it is handled.”
Sometimes the effects of corruption are dramatic. Sometimes the effects slow down the improvement of the everyday lives of people.