A population boom is expected in Mérida and 17 other municipalities where the Tren Maya will have a station.
According to an UN-Habitat study, it is estimated that by 2030, the population will grow 42.7% in 18 municipalities around the Yucatán Peninsula and Southeast. This growth would be the result of the development of the Tren Maya, as it is expected in the places where the railroad will have a station.
The 18 districts are Benito Juárez, Puerto Morelos, Bacalar, Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Lázaro Cárdenas, Othón P. Blanco and Solidaridad, in Quintana Roo; Mérida, Tinum, Izamal and Valladolid in Yucatán; Calakmul, Escárcega and San Francisco de Campeche, in Campeche; Palenque in Chiapas; and Balancán and Tenosique, in Tabasco.
Pere Sunyer, coordinator of the Bachelor’s Degree in Human Geography at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, has said that this population increase is not synonymous with economic development and better quality of life.
“Since there is no planning of human settlements, access to decent housing, services such as drinking water, electricity, schools, and health centers, it is very likely that social problems will also grow,” said Sunyer.
He considers that immigration in the municipalities could trigger, in the long term, greater poverty, insecurity, and environmental deterioration.
The projection by UN-Habitat reveals that in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, in Quintana Roo, the population is expected to grow 67.3 percent, while Puerto Morelos expects an increase of 56.3 percent in the next 10 years. in the capital of Campeche it would increase 49 percent, and in Tulum, in Quintana Roo, 47.7 percent.
“The problem with these projects is that they are linked to land speculation, which will lead to changes in land use, land clearing, change of agricultural areas to urban areas, amongst others,” said Pere.
Territorial disputes have come up with residents of municipalities around Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo. Pere warns of the risk of generating a territorial disorder, as migration could be expected from other parts of the peninsula or the country.
“This mega project is starting the house from the roof instead of starting with the foundations. In order to improve it, we must first think about what the people of the municipalities need”.