The bridge over the Paucar river, in Perez Zeledon, that took seven (7) years to erect.
The bridge over the Paucar river, in Perez Zeledon, that took seven (7) years to erect.

COSTA RICA NEWS – It took the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) – national emergency commission-  seven years to erect a bridge that should have been done in thee months, meanwhile some 30 families of Santa Rosa de Perez Zeledon, daily risked their lives of being caught in the currents while attempting to cross the Pacuar river.

The Santa Rosa incident is not an isolated one, but a reality, so says a report by the Contraloría General de la República (CGR)  – Comptroller General’s Office dated 23 July 2014, that found little in the way of control and supervision over the activities of the CNE in the reconstruction works process after a natural disaster.  (Click here for the report then scroll down to Contraloría General de la República, Insuficiente control y fiscalización de CNE a unidades ejecutoras de obra pública and then click on ver informe completo for the PDF file)

In an inspection conducted between January 2008 and December 2012, the CGR found that of the 75 projects analyzes, 63 did not meet the deadline adn 29 projects completed in twice or more the scheduled timeline.

In 2005, Pérez Zeledón was one of the regions hardest hit Hurricane Rita, leaving Santa Rosa without a bridge.

The investigation by the Contraloría revealed that the design of the structure and permits process started in 2005. But numerous delays in the sourcing of material and construction suspended the work four times due to design changes, including where to located the new structure, some saying it should in the original site, others, saying it should be located in a different place.

Francisco Rojas, president of the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Santa Rosa, said that situation not only affected their community, but also some 3.000 inhabitants of the Rio Nuevo, having to cross through Santa Rosa to downtown San Isidro de General. (San Isidro General is the principal town of the region of Pérez Zeledón, yet it is commonly known to one and all Pérez Zeledón.)

“School children were badly affected, having to cross the river, when water levels allowed. On occasion, they had to leave clothes and food on the other side of the river,” the community leader told Ahora in an interview.

When the water levels rose and the flow of the river was strong during the rainy season, the only route available to the community was through La Palam, a distance of 17 kilometres.

The current president of the CNE, Iván Brenes, acknowledges that the system prevents a response in the prescribed time. “From the moment that the emergency plan is submitted it can take up to two years (…) it is not efficient,” said Brenes, who took office on May 8.

Sources: Contráloria General de la Republica; Ahora

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