Yesterday once again the access to Machu Picchu was blocked. Huge rocks were place on the tracks of the train route to Machu Picchu Pueblo, buses blocked the only access road from there to the Inca citadel and enraged citizens protested in town. Hundreds of visitors were stranded and couldn’t get to Machu Picchu or back.
What’s going on?
For over 20 years the only company that is allowed to offer transportation services from Machu Picchu town to Machu Picchu ruins is the Consortio Consettur. With 24 buses the company brings thousand of visitors daily to the Inca citadel. For the 15 to 20 minutes bus ride the company charges currently more than US$ 20 making the 7 km long trip the most expensive in the country.
Anyway, basing the decision on free competition, a judge now ordered that other transportation companies could as well provide that service and allowed the Consortio Machu Picchu Pueblo to operate 12 buses on that same highly lucrative route (we are talking about S/ 50 million (about 15,5 US$ million) per year), while Consettur has to withdraw 12 of their 24 buses.
This news wasn’t received well, neither by Consettur, its staff and associates nor by some citizens of Machu Picchu Pueblo. They argue that the route is already under concession of Consettur and that the new transportation company is operated by and with people not coming from town.
So, supporters of the monopolized transportation service offered by Consettur demonstrated in town and vented their anger about the judge’s decision by blocking the only access route to Machu Picchu and the train route to town.
Machu Picchu visitors were stranded either in town or at the ruins for hours. Police arrived to establish public order and execute the controversial judge’s decision.
As the Consortio Consettur and the Defense Front of the Interests of the District of Machu Picchu already announced that they will defend “their” road that belongs to the citizens of Machu Picchu and provides on income for 500 local families, further protests, strikes, road blocks and inconveniences for Machu Picchu visitors can be expected in the coming days or even weeks.