Due to the declaration of the economic, social and environmental emergency generated by COVID-19 and in accordance with the preemptive mandatory isolation declared by Decree 457 of 2020, in addition to the need of guaranteeing the provision of the public transport service to insure access to health services and cargo supply to the population, the Ministry of Transport issued Decree 482 of 2020 to implement several measures applicable to the transport sector.
Measures are comprised by: (i) the creation of a new office (Logistic and Transport Center), linked to the Ministry of Transport, for coordinating, adopting decisions and implementing measures in relation to public transport services during the time of the emergency; (ii) measures related to mobility restrictions and the provision of the public transport services; (iii) economic measures in the transport sector arising from the emergency declaration.
(i) Creation of the Logistic and Transport Center
The Ministry of Transport created a new office in the transport sector named the Logistic and Transport Center (“CLT” for its Spanish acronym), which will be integrated by: the Transport Minister, the Agriculture Minister, the Minister for Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the Transport Vice-minister and a delegate of the Presidency of the Republic. The CLT will have as permanent guests: The Defense Minister, the Director of the National Roads Institute (INVIAS for its Spanish acronym), the Director of Civil Aeronautics, the Director of the National Agency of Road Safety (“ANSV” for its Spanish acronym), the President of the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI for its Spanish acronym), the Transport Superintendent and the Director of Transit and Transport of the National Police.
CLT will (i) advise in matters aiming to guarantee the provision of the public transport service during the emergency, (i) adopt decisions that allow to establish the conditions for passenger and cargo transit and transport and other exceptions allowed during the preemptive mandatory isolation, (iii) oversee that the transport of goods for the supply of the population is performed with the maximum possible cost reduction and (iv) orientate the parameters for the performance of activities in the transport sector.
CLT has been granted powers to, among others, authorize the landing of passengers in the country, adopt communication and divulgation mechanisms with the transport users in relation to the measures in force during the emergency, modify the percentage of offer reduction of inter-communal and massive ground transportation, previous approval of the agreements between cargo generators and cargo transporters.
(ii) Measures arising from the mobility restriction
With the mobility restriction generated as a consequence of the preemptive mandatory isolation through Decree 457 of 2020, the Ministry of Transport has adopted the following measures for different sectors:
For the passenger transport sector:
- • Continuity in the service provision, but with operation offer reduction of up to 50% of the authorized transport capacity for each route.
- • Transport terminals operation, but without any sanction in case of cease of the operation offer of the inter-communal transport companies.
- • Operation of the enabled companies for the passenger transport, but there will be no sanction due to route cancellation for decrease in the authorized service in less than 50%
- • Operation of mass transport systems. However, the allowed offer of services in mass transport systems shall not exceed 50% of the maximum offer of each system.
- • Provision of taxi services, but only if offered via telephone or apps.
For the cargo transport sector:
- • Assuring the provision cargo transport services and the possibility for cargo generators and cargo transporters to reach agreements that would otherwise be considered against the antitrust law and would be sanctioned, but that through the duration of the emergency will be allowed, with the previous approval of CLT, in order to achieve logistics efficient synergies.
In relation to the transit support entities:
- • Activities from transit support entities are suspended, such as the Centros de Diagnostico Automotor and Centros de Enseñanza Automovilistica.
- • Transit documents (driver’s license, certificates, etc.) whose term had expired, will not be requested.
- • The terms for fine’s reduction are suspended.
- • The term for the technical-mechanical revision of cars is suspended.
In relation to transport operation:
- • Documents that support the public transport operation (cargo manifest, load order, etc.) may be transmitted and carried through digital media.
- • Installation of Safe Points in the roads of the country to accompany and examine the passenger and road transporters. • The location of these points will be determined by CLT, and the performance of its activities will be done by ASNV and National Police, in coordination with concessionaires that have transport infrastructure under its charge and with the Health Secretariat of the respective municipality.
In relation to toll collection:
- • Suspension of toll collection to vehicles that transit throughout national territory which perform activities set forth in Decree 457 of 2020.
(iii) Economic measures arising from the emergency
Moreover, the Ministry of Transport adopted certain relief measures for the airports sector, concessions and public private partnerships of Law 1508 of 2012, and ports.
In relation to airport industry:
- • The prioritization of devolution of credit balance in favor of air service companies before the tax authority was declared, so that it does not exceed 30 calendar day since its presentation.
- • The application of article 151 of Law 2010 of 2019 regarding airport fees is suspended until December 31st, 2021.
- • Authorization of the flexibilization and suspension of maximum tops established for personnel of air controllers, firefighters and aeronautics technicians, in case any of the have symptoms of COVID-19.
- • Airlines may perform reimburses to its users in services provided by the same airline for the term of the emergency plus one additional year.
- • Civil Aeronautics may modify the request for performance bonds to aeronautics companies until December 31st, 2021.
- • Civil Aeronautics may reach payment agreements with air services companies for a 6-month term after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
- • New charges related with airport infrastructure are suspended. Civil Aeronautics may suspend the collection of rent for spaces subject to economic exploitation located in non-concessional airports and airfields directly administrated by Civil Aeronautics.
- • Environmental time restriction for the operation of airstrips in national and/or international airports in the national territory are suspended.
In relation to Concessions, Public Private Partnerships and Ports:
- • CLT may order the suspension of any infrastructure available for the provision of public transport services. • Infrastructure administrators must adapt its operation to the schemes determined by CLT or the National Government.
- • Due to operational or technical needs of the constructive procedures of any work, the continuity of the work will be allowed by complying with the protocols set forth by the Health Ministry and the CLT.
- • In Public Private Partnerships of Law 1508 of 2012, time extensions may be granted, which added may exceed 20% of the initially agreed contract value. In Private Initiative PPP projects, contracts may be extended exceeding 20% of their initial term. This due to the measures taken by the National Government that lead to a decrease in the toll collection of these projects.
- • Public entities are entitled to unilaterally suspend transport infrastructure public contracts, if said suspension is necessary for complying with the measures arising from the COVID-19 emergency. This suspension will only be applicable if the execution of the respective suspension minutes by mutual agreement is not archived within 2 days following the date of the letter/communication submitted by the respective public entity in this regard.
- • Grantors of port concession agreements (i.e. ANI and Cormagdalena) may increase the terms for time extension of the concession for the time deemed necessary to recognize the possible accredited effects that may be generated in the contract’s economy for the service provision in the corresponding ports, during the time of the emergency.
- • Private service ports are enabled to operate cargo that has the purpose of guaranteeing the supply of first necessity goods to the population of the respective port zone. Likewise, public service ports are enabled to perform the same type of operations, regardless of the authorized cargo type regulated in their contracts.