Q COSTA RICA – The San Jose – San Ramon road, if and whenever it gets built, won’t be cheap to use, said the newly appointed Ministro de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT), German Valverde.

The civil engineer who has held various posts in the MOPT before last week as minister of that portfolio, explained that the toll costs will be similar or close to the calculations made by Constructora OAS back in 2013, some ¢4,000 colones to travel the 60 km distance between San Jose and San Ramon.

“Of course, this is a personal perspective,” Valverde told La Nación in a telephone interview, adding that on possible negative public opinion (on the tolls) one of the possible solutions to keep the toll costs down is set a “shadow toll” (peaje sombra in Spanish) which is lower than the actual cost with some (financial) input from the State so that “the toll is socially accepted”.

In 2013, OAS calculated the tolls at ¢1,965 colones each way or ¢3,930 both ways. The amount is for light vehicles and would have been much higher for heavier vehicles.

However, organized groups of residents of San Ramón and other cantons objected to the cost and forced the government of Laura Chinchilla to rescind the 30-year concession contract with OAS, which was to deliver the project ‘turn-key’ at the price tag of US$524 million dollars.

The cancellation stranded the project, and to settle the agreement, the State had to pay the Brazilian giant an indemnity of US$35 million.

Since, legislators decided to create the figure of trust (Fidecomiso in Spanish) and using current route (Ruta 1) that starts in La Sabana.

On February 11, 2016, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) granted the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) the administration of the trust, but the plan has not yet progressed since the Bank has demanded an amendment to the contract to also deliver the project turn-key.

The Comptroller General (Contraloría) is currently in the process of deciding whether to accept this condition.

Valverde, in fact, believes that the project will not be started by this administration and would be left up to the new government that takes over in May 2018.

Also, the BCR estimates the cost to be closer to US$600 million dollars and not the US$440 million that is being discussed at various levels.

This not taking into account the US$35 million dollars that the government has already paid (for the indemnity) the reconstruction of the Virilla river bridge of the General Cañas, which is part of the route.

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