The Chinese construction firm, the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), is set to start work on the expansion of the Ruta 32, the San Jose – Limon artery, to improve its transport capacity and efficiency, and spur local economy in general.
However, the project would not be the sole responsibility of the Chinese company, as a Costa Rican construction company would take over about 35 kilometers of the road work between Matina and the city of Limón, while CHEC would stay with the section that runs from the crossing to Rio Frío, in Pococí, to Matina.
Wang Lei Lei, Deputy General Manager of (CHEC), clarified that when looking for a local firm to take charge of that section it does not mean that they will delegate the responsibility, nor that they will cede the supervision or the management of the work.
Lei was clear that the company doesn’t want it to be misinterpreted, that though that section is under subcontract, “it will be managed by CHEC, there will be a selection process”, He said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) stated that “the contract allows the CHEC company subcontracting, however, this must be formally notified in writing to the administration, which has not happened.”
The statement made by way of the MOPT press office says that the government agency “must verify the sub-contractor and its technical capacity”.
The China Harbour Engineering Company operates in more than 80 countries around the world.
The expansion of the 107 kilometers of the Ruta 32 is budgeted at US$495 million, of which US$395 million comes from Chinese government funding and the other US$100 million from Costa Rica government line of credit.
The expansion is required as the road connecting the capital city of San Jose with the Caribbean town of Limon, where two port terminals, Limon and Moin, together handle as much as 80% of all Costa Rican imports, and exports to the U.S. East Coast, Europe, and South America.
Despite its strategic role in trade, Ruta 32 has over the years fallen into disrepair, mostly due to the lack of maintenance and improvements by the MOPT and due to increasing passenger and cargo traffic between Limon and the capital.
Traffic along the two-lane road is easily disrupted by traffic accidents or other unforeseen events, such as landslides mostly through the Braulio Carrillo section of the road.
Of concern is the increased traffic the Ruta 32 will see when the mega port, the APM container terminal, opens in February 2019.
The revamped road will be a four-lane highway, with improved intersections and road safety features.
Source: La Nacion (in Spanish).