The ruta 32, the San José-Limón highway. Photo Panoramio.com
The ruta 32, the San José-Limón highway. Photo Panoramio.com

UPDATE: 5:47pm  – At 2:16 p. m. legislators passed in second and final debate the loan for the expansion the San José-Limón. The bill was approved with the support of 46 legislators, while 6 legislators opposed.

QCOSTARICA – The Legislative Assembly voted in the first debate to approve the Chinese contract for the Vwidening of Pococi and Limon section of the Ruta 32, the San José – Limón highay.  The vote was 45 in favor of the 51 lawmakers present.

The positive result of the vote was possible to the Frente Amplio (FA) party prior announcement it was in favor of the project.

But the FA did not vote as a bloc because legislator Ligia Fallas voted against. Saying no was the Partido Accion Cuiadadana (PAC) Party legislative leader, Otton Solis, and fellow legislators Franklin Corella, Espy Campbell, Nidia Jimenez and Marco Redondo, despite President Luis Guillermo Solis (also of the PAC party) urged passage of the law.

The Pococi and Limon is a stretch of 107 kilometers that is to be widened to four lanes by the China Harbour Engineering Co. (CHEC) even though strong reservations have been expressed about terms of the deal. Among groups with strong reservations is the Federated Engineers and Architects, including about security and dimensions.

The cost is US$395 million to be paid in a 20 year term.

The Ruta 32 moves moves more than 80% of national production exported by the Moin (Limon) docks, according to the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Ministerio de Comercio Exterior).

Strong support for the widening project came from freight transport companies. Despite this, Frente Amplio legislative leader Gerardo Vargas denied that the party had received any pressure to favor the project and dumped responsibility in the President’s lap.

For his part, President Solis said if the bill is not approved the country will lose a golden chance to gain a first class highway. “If the project …is not approved, 25 or 30 or 40 years will pass as it did with the Costañera and we still won’t have a road.”

The Costañera (also known as the Costanera) is the Pacific coastal road that goes from Puntarenas to the southern zone, that took years in the planning, development and construction, as many road and infrastructure projects in the country. The major cause of delays are red tape at all levels of government, political will and financing.

The Ruta 32 bill will still has to pass a second legilstive vote before it is signed by the President.

With notes from iNews.co.cr, Elfinancierocr.com