(QCOSTARICA) The current minister of Transport and Public Works (Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes – MOPT), Carlos Villalta, is so confident that the work on the expansion of the Virilla bridge (commonly referred to as the ‘Platin’) that he is putting his job and his political career on the line.
In an interview with La Nacion Friday, Villalta said that if the work is not complete by February 28, 2017, he will resign.
The minister’s assertion comes two days after the Comptroller’s office (Contraloría General de la República) tabled a report that there is no guarantee that the work will be done on time.
According to Villalta, there is pressure to finish the work on time and the directive by President Luis Guillermo Solis would force him to hand in his resignation.
The Comptroller’s report said the construction work schedule is “outdated” and without adequate control. The work is being carried out by the Codocsa construction company.
The story of the Virilla bridge began in 2009, when a 10cm (4 inch) gap between one of the spans was detected. Several efforts to repair the structure built in the 1960s, with a design to handle only a fraction of the vehicular volume today, has cost the taxpayer almost ¢10 billion colones. This amount included the ¢7.4 billion for the current work to expand the structure from four to six lanes.
Villalta acknowledges the project has problems related to work schedule and monitoring, as indicated in the Comptroller’s report. But despite that and the high expectations from the start, he is confident the project will be delivered within the stipulated deadline.
“There are things you cannot control, there’s a big list of people who also has responsibility,” said the MOPT head. Villalta is the latest in a long list of MOPT ministers who have had a hand in the long running project.
The minister’s statement are contradicted by German Valverde, executive director of the National Highway Council (CONAVI), who said on Wednesday that the work is being monitored.
For his part, Olman Vargas, executive director the College of Engineers and Architects (CFIA), was surprised by the minister’s announcement. The executive agrees that the minister has moved the project forward, but doubts it will be done on time.